Mini 12-Metre Boats ... a Sport and Recreational Activity for Persons with Spinal Cord Injuries

By Drewes, Asbjorn Mohr; Biering-Sorensen, Fin et al. | Palaestra, Spring 1993 | Go to article overview

Mini 12-Metre Boats ... a Sport and Recreational Activity for Persons with Spinal Cord Injuries


Drewes, Asbjorn Mohr, Biering-Sorensen, Fin, Andreasen, Arne, Palaestra


Asbjorn Mohr Drewes, MD, is with the Spinal Cord Injury Unit, Department of Rheumatology, Viborg County Hospital, Viborg, Denmark; Fin Biering-Sorensen, National University Hospital, Centre for Spinal Cord Injured, Department TH, Copenhagen, Denmark; and, Arne Andreasen, Spinal Cord Injury Unit, Department of Rheumatology, Viborg County Hospital, Viborg, Denmark.

Value of sport and recreation for persons with physical disabilities has been demonstrated by several authors. Sport can be a significant part of clinical treatment, complementing conventional methods of physiotherapy, thereby improving the rehabilitation process (Stotts, 1986; Horvat, French & Henchen, 1986). Furthermore, an active life facilitates social reintegration (Molnar, 1981). A wide range of sport activities is available for persons with disabilities (Guttman, 1976a; Guttmann, 1976b). Nevertheless, for individuals with the most severe disabilities (e.g., patients with complete quadriplegia) sports, hobbies, and recreational activities may be limited, as functions of upper extremities may be too reduced to allow participation. A recent paper (Drewes, Olsson, Slot & Andreasen, 1989) suggested an inverse association between functional status expressed as Barthel Index (Mahoney & Barthel, 1965) and sport, as well as other leisure-time activities.

The Danes have a great yachting tradition and many opportunities for participation. In recent years M12 boats have been introduced as a sport and recreational activity for persons with disabilities, thereby offering advantages of solo-sailing without support from able-bodied persons.

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate possibilities of M12 sailing as a recreational and competitive activity for persons with various degrees of spinal cord injuries (SCI).

Subjects

All patients with SCI admitted to the Spinal Cord Injury Unit at Viborg County Hospital (Denmark) during 1989-90 were offered opportunities to sail in M12 boats operated by the center. The hospital is located on the shore of the medium-sized lake Sonderso (1.4 km.[sup.2]). Former patients were also offered trips in the boats.

Data were collected from patients' medical records at the time of the first trip. Moreover, patients were questioned about severity of their disabilities and recent complications (e.g., spasms and pressure sores). If there was disagreement between data in the patients' medical records and interviews, patients were examined. Muscle function was registered and graded on a 1-5 point scale according to Daniels, Williams, and Worthington (1956), a score of 4-5 giving usable to normal muscle power. Functional status was measured using the Barthel Index (Mahoney & Barthel, 1965). This measures, on a scale from 0-100, a person's ability to live independently with a score of 60 or below reflecting serous limitations in personal care independence (Granger, Albrecht & Hamilton, 1979).

The M12 Boat

The M12 boat is a one-person keel-boat made according to an adaptive concept, the 12 meter rule]1[. The boat is a little more than 4m long. Besides being unsinkable it is very stable, even in hard wind, due to the wide midship section and relatively heavy keel. Yet, it can sail more than 6 knots (nautical miles per hour), and is easy to handle.

The sailor is placed low in the cockpit, well protected against swinging of the boom. If full of water the boat can still sail due to buoyancy of material in the hull. Trim functions are carried out by use of thin lines fixed in the cockpit front-panel, and can be carried out with little physical strength. Trimlines may be handled with the teeth, or by holding lines between the arms or twisting them around the wrists. Furthermore, the sail may be made self sheeting, a feature that increases stability and security. The boat can sail with the foresail alone, an advantage in a strong wind, and for persons with little muscle strength. …

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