A greater awareness and emphasis on integrating disability into society has increased demand for adaptive sporting wheelchairs and equipment. Sporting events in developed nations earn multi-million dollar contracts. Children playing stick-ball on the street, or professional sports wheelchair athletes, sport plays a large part of modern lifestyle influencing community.
Purpose built wheelchairs sporting aids and equipment are available for the majority of popular sporting categories enabling people with disabilities to participate in recreational and competitive sporting events. Modern materials; carbon fibre, titainium and thermo-plastics along with a wide range of various alloys and polymers have facilitated development of higly technical adaptive sporting aids, particularly disability sporting equipment at a professional competitive level, such as the Paralympics. These sophisticated wheelchairs and sporting aids can for example, assist track and field athletes in running faster and jumping higher than their able-bodied fellow athletes.
Disability friendly sports equipment at grass root level community based sporting clubs and associations have largely been developed by volunteer members who posess the skill required to manufacture, or as an organisation fund raise to purchase specialised wheelchairs and adaptive sporting equipment for the disabled.
Competition sports wheelchairs and sporting aids can give the edge required to win. At the 2008 Paralympics Wojtek Czyz jumped 6.50 meters on a prosthetic leg setting a new Paralympics world record. The prosthesis was made from materials developed by the European Space Agency.
A fellow 400 meter sprint amputee stated his prosthetic leg is so good his natural leg slows him down. A team of researchers, including a University of Colorado associate professor and his former doctoral student, proved otherwise. They showed amputees who use running-specific prosthetic legs have no performance advantage over athletes who use their biological legs.
Elite level disability sporting wheelchairs and equipment doesn’t come cheap costing in excess of $25, 000 to $40, 000 for a running-specific prosthetic leg. Professional competition basketball and tennis wheelchairs often made from titanium for its strength and lightweight properties begin at $10, 000. In comparison the components for an entry level beginner running-prosthetic leg cost $2000 but after assembly and fitting about $10, 000. Basic basketball, quad rugby and tennis wheelchairs start at $1500. Electric wheelchairs more accurately called powerchairs with tilt and fancy features are also expensive starting around $6000. By the time you add a nice backrest and Jay or Roho pressure relieving cushion and paint job you’re looking at around $9000. Technologically advanced powerchairs like the iBot retail around $25, 000.
A spinal cord injury such as tetraplegia or quadriplegia causes obvious limits to physical function and endurance ability in the sporting arena. Already struggling with the extra cost of living as a quadriplegic or paraplegic in a wheelchair from spinal cord injury, entry level modified sporting equipment will always bs quite expensive. Unfortunately the cost alone often excludes and prohibits participation in sports. Due to this many sports clubs and spinal cord injury associations will facilitate the supply of modified sporting and sport specific wheelchairs and aids at minimal cost. Essentially the ability for those with spinal cord injury and other disabilities to participate in and enjoy sports is only limited by levels of function, imagination and determination.