Wheelchair racers use several main types of gloves to push with. Racers often start out in the sport with “soft gloves,” which are made of leather and rubber. These provide a wide pushing surface and are useful in developing a good pushing technique.
“Hard gloves” are made out of aquaplast or 3D-printed plastic with rubber glued to the pushing surface. They are lighter and cooler than soft gloves, but can be harder to learn pushing technique when just starting out in racing. 3D printed gloves are rapidly gaining in popularity because they are made for a wide variety of hand sizes and aquaplast can be tricky to mold, especially if you don’t have the help of a knowledgeable person to make them.
The benefits of aquaplast gloves if you have the skill and time to make them are numerous. They allow you to create a glove uniquely fitted to both your hands and your pushing style. They are also significantly cheaper than soft gloves or 3D printed gloves, which cost between $150 and $300.
An aquaplast kit only costs around $40 and comes with aquaplast beads, aquaplast sheets, and rubber sheets. You can make them as large or small as you like, depending in your pushing style. You can glue hook and loop straps if you want a more secure fit. Aquaplast is also easy to remold before you glue anything onto it, so you can start over if you find that the fit is not ideal after you mold them the first time. The kit I ordered came with 16 ounces of aquaplast pellets and two sheets of rubber. Some kits also come with sheets of aquaplast and less pellets. I had the help of my occupational therapist in making these, so we melted the pellets in a hot water bath at 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beaches are favorite vacation spots for many people. The relaxed atmosphere, warm sand and abundant sunshine all draw millions of people to the US Gulf Coast each year. For those with mobility impairments however, the beach can be a daunting and inaccessible place. Crutches, walkers and wheelchair wheels all sink miserably into sand, making just getting out to the shoreline almost impossible. Many coastal communities are trying to make their beaches more accessible with access mats, close parking and ramped boardwalks over sand dunes, and Gulf Shores, Alabama is one town that has made a commitment to accessibility. During my trip there in October I experienced first-hand how much more fun the beach can be when you can actually reach it.
Gulf Shores has made an effort in the recent renovation of their main beach area to become an accessible destination. The first thing I noticed was the ample amount of disabled parking available close to the beach access, and the wide paved sidewalks from the parking area to the sand. Continue reading