Going for A Walk

Nov 17, 2010
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Like most people who have a disability, I want to be involved, active, and participate. I have always refused to be isolated and my parents constantly supported my full participation. They knew I wanted to be “in” and included, so they helped me find the methods for that to happen by means of modified equipment or a modified approach. When I wanted to roller-skate, my parents found skates that attached to my shoes so that I could attempt to skate while using my canes for extra balance. Simulating the motion of a skier while using the canes, I was able to skate. Like most children, I also wanted to learn how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle, but due to my physiology I struggled. My legs were too stiff and spastic from the effect of Cerebral Palsy (CP).

Learning how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle entails having skills for pedaling, steering, and balancing. My challenges were with pedaling and balancing. My parents consulted with a physical therapist and tried several different adaptations. We even tried tying my feet to the pedals with straps to keep my feet in place; so that I could, in theory, push the pedals around. These attempts did not result in my riding. I needed a modified bicycle with a pulley system which supported the revolution of the pedals. I learned to ride a modified bicycle at the age of 14.

I am now in my early thirties and still find that there are many new things I want to try. Recently, I wanted to learn how to kayak. The challenge for me was not learning how to paddle or mastering how to maneuver the boat, it was figuring out how to sit upright in the boat due to balance problems and a lack of flexibility. We tried different seats and equipment, but didn’t quite find the right solution. When I presented this issue to James House, my personal trainer, he recommended we find a new way to address the balance and posture predicament. He said, “All you need is a piece of foam to support your knees and wedge yourself into place to limit undesired motion.”

The valuable lessons learned from my youth that still apply in my adult life are: there is always a solution; creative thinking and problem-solving will uncover a way to deal with or solve the presenting challenge; and constantly apply yourself to a task with the intent to overcome challenges.

Program Advancement is a “Jointly Led” Operation/Collaboration-

My overall goal in work with James is to walk full-time without any type of assistive walking device. James serves many roles in the advancement towards this goal. Perhaps the most important roles are as a planner, where he designs the exercise sequences and acts as an instructor as he guides me through my fitness routine. After careful and thoughtful planning, he observes my many physiological reactions to the workout. Certainly you would expect fatigue levels in muscles that are being used, but there are also unforeseen reactions that demand attention and care such as sudden occurrences of spasticity. James assists me in addressing the counterproductive reactions by making me as relaxed as possible to actively relax the tissues that are tense and then bringing the affected areas through passive stretching and mobility sequences.

My experience with a variety of professionals has affirmed a strong belief that a cooperative and collaborative approach with multiple experts is absolutely necessary for optimal progress. In my efforts to improve health through increased physical activity, I have worked with many personal trainers and physical therapists, all under the surveillance of my physician. A personal trainer is a fitness professional who is hired for private instruction to teach and assist the client / trainee to achieve fitness–related goals. A physical therapist is a licensed healthcare professional that provides a range of services to help restore function and improve mobility. For health gains that have resulted over time, I have found it essential that this combined expertise be in place to address the changing manifestations of my disability.

Read more about Kerry’s journey on Friday November 19 in Going for A Walk-Part 2.

Author: Kerry

  • Sheri

    Perfect example of how never giving up can get you places that you never thought you would be :)

  • Kerry Wiley

    Reply from Kerry Wiley (Writer):

    Thank you for your comments. I hope readers can extract ideas from Going for A Walk, which may be useful, particularly possible ways to adapt activity to increase participation as well as problem-solve challenges that present.

  • Tracy Guynup


    This blog really informed me. I often think that I am a real inclusive thinker. I am constantly finding that there are worlds that I don’t know about. I try to learn all that I can about what it is like to be other people and what it has been like for them throughout their lives. When asked to consider the challenges that a person with non-traditional physical needs such as yourself I would of course think that you must have faced many daunting challenges throughout your life. Admittedly I don’t always stop and consider exactly what those specific challenges might be or how you have faced them, struggled with them and conquered them in specific ways. When reading about how you skated, rode a bike, and kayaked the true gravity of both your journey and how much I take for granted in my own life become much more apparent. This is a highly informative and eye-opening blog. It is both well-written and personal. That’s all a reader can ask for from his or her writer/blogger. Thank you for writing it and thank you for sending me a link to it. I’d love to continue to read about your journey.

    Tracy Guynup

  • Kerry Wiley

    From Kerry Wiley (Writer)

    Thank you for your comments. To follow the rest of the story and to see posts from the other talented authors here:http: //blog.ncpad.org – visit here tomorrow for the next installment of Going for a Walk!

    Note: Endless CapABILITIES, is a new blog from the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability. The mission is to generate dialogue in an informal setting regarding issues related to physical activity, health, and/or various disabilities. While NCPAD is primarily focused on promoting participation in physical activity by people with disabilities and educating consumers and professionals about best practices and safe methods of exercise, this site is dedicated to bringing you news, opinions, personal stories, the latest in research, and more.