Swimming With a Physical Disability
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
Swimming is an awesome, all-around fun activity for people of all ages. It's widely known that swimming is not only a great leisure activity but also an excellent non-impact way to get exercise and improve health without risking injury. Swimming helps to:
- Maintain a healthy heart rate
- Relieves stress
- Builds muscle strength
- Builds endurance
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Maintains body weight
- Improves heart and lung function
What about swimming with a physical disability? Can it still be done? You might be surprised to learn that swimming is actually one of the most popular physical activities for people with physical disabilities. In addition to the overall health and fitness benefits, swimming can improve mobility. Swimming can improve mobility because the water helps to support the whole body, thus allowing you to have a wide range of motion. Being buoyant in water also can ease tight or painful joints and tendons and provide excellent muscle and joint therapy. Swimming also improves balance and agility because individuals can practice moving in water in ways that they cannot on land.
One challenge for those with physical disabilities might be the process of getting into and out of the water. Pool lifts like Aqua Creek's Revolution Pool Lift are an excellent addition to any pool facility. Available in both manual and automatic models, pool lifts can be used for both residential and commercial applications.
Automatic lifts are compliant with current ADA requirements; however, manually-cranked or -rotated lifts are not. In order for a lift to be ADA compliant, the user must be able to operate it without assistance. According to the 2010 ADA Standards, pools with at least 300 linear feet of pool wall or more are required to have at least one accessible means of entry, which can be either a sloped entry or a fixed pool lift.
Manual pool lifts are an affordable choice for home pools or spas. They operate via an easy-to-use hydraulic pump or manual crank and usually feature a comfortable sling-style seat. Aqua Creek's sturdy manual pool lifts, like the EZ Pool Lift are made from durable type 304L stainless steel and are coated with durable epoxy powder coating to withstand years of use. They can work with in-ground pools and can be mounted above ground. They also can be easily stored in the wintertime.
Automatic or battery-powered pool lifts like the Scout 2 make for an excellent, ADA-compliant addition to any recreation center or pool facility. Automatic lifts will usually have a solid, submergible seat and a footrest, though the foot rest is often removable. Automatic lifts can typically lift up to 300 pounds. Most importantly, they can be operated by the user, usually with a hand-controlled remote, both from the deck and in the water. The remotes will generally not require tight gripping, pinching or twisting of the wrists to operate, are easy to use, and require no more than 5 pounds of force to operate.
How to Choose a Pool Lift
One important thing to consider when selecting a pool lift are the gutter style of the pool. Gutter styles include roll-out, recessed, bullnosed, and raised. Other important things to consider when selecting a pool lift are the pool's dimensions from the deck to the water, the width of the gutter, and the coping. You also will want to take into consideration whether the pool in question is above or below ground, which will impact whether or not you will want to anchor the pool lift. You also will want to consider where the pool lift will be used. Is it for your business or for your home? If it is for a business like a public pool, spa, or recreation center, then you definitely will want an ADA-compliant pool lift. Once your lift is set up, you can enjoy hours of fun and therapeutic time in the water. Swimming is not only enjoyable and beneficial to your health but also is a great social activity. Regardless of what you are looking to gain from it, your pool lift is guaranteed to bring vitality to your life.