Want to participate in a fast action sport? Try sledge hockey (also called sled hockey) – an exciting ice skating experience for people with disabilities. It’s growing in popularity with Americans with disabilities. In fact, every state has a sled team; and both the U.S. and Canada have national sled hockey teams that compete in international tournaments as well as the Paralympics.
A competitive version of ice hockey, it is played on regulation ice by people with lower limb mobility impairments, like spina bifida or cerebral palsy. The beauty is that to play, you don’t need skating experience. Just strap on an aluminum sled and propel yourself over the ice with short sticks with spikes on one end and a shooting blade on the other.
Sleds have double runners on the bottom with blades for maneuvering and propulsion. They can be spread out for easier balance; advanced players push them close together to make it easier and faster to turn.
Two sticks with a narrow curve are used to propel you around the ice. Each stick has picks on the bottom to grip the ice. The top end includes a blade to hit the puck. The sticks are shorter and the action is closer to the ice.
A number of hockey rinks have been built around the country that are sled-accessible, meaning they have slides running from the doors of the bench area to the actual bench area.
Do an online search for “disabled hockey” to find a rink or sled hockey association near you. A sled hockey association has rental sleds. And ladies, don’t worry about finding enough other females to play – sled hockey has both genders on the same team.
Watch sledge hockey at this summer’s Paralympics in London, which always runs parallel to the Olympics in the same host city.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.
Photo Credit: Tech. Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo