A new group that’s reaching out to Iowans with spinal cord injuries had its first large gathering over the weekend in West Des Moines. Joyce Ellens is a recreation therapist and she’s helping launch the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Iowa. Ellens is focusing on the sport of “adaptive cycling,” using a special bicycle that can be pedaled with one’s hands. Ellens says she’s encouraging people who are in wheelchairs, who can only use their upper bodies, to become active in adaptive cycling or some other sport. She works with newly-injured patients who often think they won’t be able to do anything anymore because they’re in a wheelchair. Ellens responds that they were athletes before their injury and are still athletes, they just have to do things a little differently. The adaptive bikes have three wheels, like a large tricycle, but with the pedal mechanism elevated so the rider’s hands can be used to pedal it. She says it’s fun, healthy and is another way to enjoy the outdoors. Ellens says one of the goals of the new group is to encourage people living with a spinal cord injury to adapt a previously-loved sport or hobby and to find new activities that are of interest. The association is pulling in members from several locations so far, including Fort Dodge, Waterloo, the Quad Cities, Council Bluffs and Des Moines. For more information, call Ellens at (515) 643-0469.
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