Triumphant return

Ben returned ecstatic from another training session tonight. He spent more time on the treadmill and used new equipment. D'Arcy said Ben really enjoyed it and felt a sense of accomplishment.

This is quite a contrast from the 50 per cent Ben received in physed on his last report card. I couldn't understand why he scored "good" in most of the related items (e.g. work habits) but did so poorly if the program is adapted to his disabilities (unless he refuses to participate).

I heard an interesting interview on CBC radio today about researchers who have developed exercise guidelines for people with spinal-cord injuries. This is a related CBC The National broadcast.

Queen's University researcher Amy Latimer followed 700 Ontarians with spinal-cord injuries for 18 months and found that over half reported no recreational physical activity at all.

"This is often more to do with the nature of the barriers people with spinal-cord injuries face in trying to exercise, rather than because of the nature of the injury," Latimer says, noting that many gyms don't provide accessible fitness equipment.

Next steps for Latimer's team are to look at exercise best practices for people with multiple sclerosis.

These guidelines are exciting, but we need accessible gyms and attitudes to go with them!

A couple of months ago I spoke to Holland Bloorview researchers about partnering with a fitness club to develop exercise programs for children with disabilities. We plan to brainstorm this idea.

I thought GoodLife, where Ben is a member, was a perfect fit because CEO David Patchell-Evans has a daughter with autism and has donated $4 million to autism research. But I heard from GoodLife that they thought the investment in equipment would be too high.

With new exercise guidelines for adults with disabilities, and with parents of children with disabilities eager to get their kids active, I believe an untapped market waits.