Rowing, Canoeing & Kayaking
Kayaks and related equipment now are
available with various modifications, depending on individual need.
No specific guidelines exist for boating with a disability because
everyone is unique. However, one great way to familiarize yourself
with a sport is to go on an outing. Organizations listed at the
end of this section, such as Wilderness Inquiry, will have everything
you need for kayaking, including trained guides and special equipment
which you can try before deciding whether to buy your own.
It is best to consult with a recreational therapist
or physical therapist who can assess your ability to maneuver a
kayak and determine how you can compensate for any disability. Certified
Red Cross instructors also provide training.
Consult with manufacturers of adaptive equipment
or their sales staffs to determine what specific equipment you need.
Here are some sample adaptations:
- For persons with lower extremity weakness,
a kayak can be adapted with a custom-made seat, using ensolite,
if necessary, to protect the buttocks.
- Floats or foam
inserts can be tucked into pant legs to provide buoyancy to dangling
legs and prevent snagging on submerged objects.
- Recommended are
a wet-suit to protect against hypothermia and a helmet to avoid
head injury, particularly injury from banging against rocks.
- Safety note to all kayakers and canoers:
helmets are extremely important on white water rivers because
of huge boulders around which the current flows at great speed,
making it easy to bang one's head. Be safe. Rivers move very quickly!
- It's also necessary
to wear a floatation device, particularly a life vest in case
- For those with
poor balance, seat belts in kayaks are occasionally recommended,
but the kayaker must first extensively practice escape procedures
in a swimming pool.
- In order to avoid
entrapment in a kayak, lower-body amputees should not wear a regular
prosthesis; a water-sports prosthesis is recommended and can be
strapped to the outside of the boat for easy access.
- Upper-body amputees
can use one-handed paddles, and/or practice paddling using heavy
tape or rubber rings to secure their grip on the paddle. (Conventional
terminal devices are not designed to hold paddles.)
- Rowing prosthetics
also are available for amputees using other types of water crafts.
- Some quadriplegic
kayakers or others with limited range of motion will opt to use
a two-man kayak if managing a one-man kayak proves to be too difficult.
Kayaking ResourcesCommon Ground Outdoor Adventures
Courage Duluth-Adaptive Sports & Rec.
map with directions
Annual Day on the Beach Event
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Many of the suggestions for kayaking
are applicable to canoeing, and canoeing is often preferable, since
you can fit more gear into a canoe, including a wheelchair to use
when you get where you're going.
The American Canoe Association's Canoeing and
Kayaking for Person's with Physical Disabilities, a 162-page
manual, covers all aspects of equipment, adapted equipment, specific
disabilities and implications for paddling (see first listing below).
Canoeing ResourcesAmerican Canoe Association (ACA)
Breckenridge Outdoor Education
Common Ground Outdoor Adventures
Adaptive Canoe Program
Adaptive Sports & Recreation
Annual Day on the Beach Event with
Experience the waterways of the Greater Seattle area by boat!
Rowing of any kind is great sport
anyone can enjoy regardless of ability. The development of the Modified
Alden Ocean Shell has helped make rowing accessible to individuals
with disabilities, including quadriplegics.
The Alden Ocean Shell has an attachable
pontoon that provides excellent stability and make it impossible
to capsize. It can be modified to fit the individual, particularly
in the seating system. Visit http://www.merrywherry.com/alden.html
U.S. Rowing Association
VIRUS Rowing Boats
Tons of adaptive sports equipment.
Modified Alden Ocean Shell
Several styles of boats built for people with disabilities
Special thanks to Jeffrey A. Jones and Michael
C. Paciorek for technical information, and resources excerpted from
their book, "Sports and Recreation for the Disabled."
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