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What recreational activities are offered for someone with a severe TBI with very limited right side arm and leg use?

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Medical Professional

Answer transcribed from Brightway's interview with recreational therapist Allison Huck:


I like to think that with the right adaptations, anything is possible for anyone. With weakness on one side of the body after a brain injury, I think if you think about it in the way of activity, it's a little easier to break down. If you think about an activity you'd enjoy, like playing cards, you definitely need two hands to play. Usually, you’d hold cards with one hand and play with another. However, you could try incorporating things like a cardholder, which are available at a lot of stores. Or, you can certainly buy them online and I think those can help do the trick. If you're thinking about things a little more active, say doing things like participating in yoga, it's always important to just tell people to participate as much as you can and modify exercises to enhance your participation. Instead of lifting both arms up, maybe use your stronger arm to help support your weaker arm or maybe keep things at shoulder height. 


There's a lot of different small adaptations that people can do. I think if people aren't able to see a recreational therapist in person, they could jot down the things that they want to do and bring them to their outpatient therapist if they are still seeing them. They could then get recommendations that are personalized to them and your level. If they give the outpatient therapists a little guidance, they can give them a little guidance to make sure that they’re successful. Then there's also things like cycling. If you're really into riding bikes, looking into adaptive cycles, and maybe getting controls all set up for your left side so that brakes are on the left, you’d still be using both legs together. The takeaway is that there are a lot of very individualized adaptations that you could go with, but there are also very simple things like a cardholder to help make participation successful.

Answer transcribed from the Brightway Answers interview with recreation therapist Holly Auth:

That's a really great question; I thought a lot about this one.  Depending on your likes and dislikes, there are opportunities for you.

For the physical aspect, there are a lot of different adapted sports programs. For example, I live in western Pennsylvania, and here we have a program called TRAS, which stands for Three Rivers Adapted Sports.  They offer adaptive water skiing, biking, bowling, you name it - they offer it throughout the year. They also offer different programs in the winter time, like skiing. The people who run this are trained professionals and volunteers - they will assist you in making sure that you're successful in what you're doing.  So if you have limited leg use, they have something called a hand cycle for biking where you power your bike with your hands. You're still biking but in an adapted way.

Also in western Pennsylvania there's a horseback riding program and an aquatic program at Slippery Rock University. I know the horseback riding program is funded by the Council on Brain Injury (not sure about the aquatic program) but this is free to anyone who has a TBI.

If you’re interested in non-physical activities, I always recommend music, word search, puzzles, reading, as well as social activities like support groups (like RediscoverU). There are a lot of really cool online programs on Facebook as well so you can connect with people there who have also had a brain injury.