Adaptive P.E. was the first college course I took after I got my TBI. In the United States, federal law requires that physical education be available to students with disabilities and the equipment adaptable for individuals with physical limitations. Additionally, adaptive P.E. instructors are required to complete a 12-credit hour course in adapted physical education and possess a bachelor’s degree with a major related to biomechanics. Although adaptive P.E. instructors are not physical therapists, these professionals have an extensive educational background, passion for helping others, and equipment to do so. Additionally, A.PE. instructors are trained to introduce exercises that promote progress in your recovery.
With that said, below is a video tour of the De Anza College Adaptive P.E. gym to demonstrate the amenities you should expect to find in an adaptive P.E. program at a college near you.
Adaptive P.E. Programs
Adaptive P.E. is a supportive community of individuals who are proactive about improving the quality of their lives. In this gym setting, you can expect the exchange of advice, recommendations, and encouragement to become more independent and self-sufficient. With that said, below is a list and description of common A.P.E programs.
Adapted Aquatics is a developmentally appropriate form of aquatic instruction for individuals with disabilities. Water therapy is extremely beneficial for TBI recovery, but it isn’t accessible for everyone. Fortunately, A.P.E is accessible for everyone, and their aquatic programs are available to everyone as a resource for water therapy. This makes it one of the most suitable recovery choices for Traumatic Brain Injury.
Adapted Total Fitness
This A.P.E program aims to provide reasonable accommodations for students with verified physical disabilities. Students attending this program can help improve their total fitness, which focuses on cardiovascular exercise, speed, flexibility, agility, and resistance training.
This is strength development regarding an individual’s physical, intellectual, and/or affective abilities and limitations. Additionally, adapted strength aims to improve functional physical abilities as well. Throughout the adapted strength program, one can attempt to develop and/or maintain their muscular strength, regardless of condition. The gym for this program would be specifically modified to accommodate users with disabilities and physical limitations – for example, allowing wheelchair access for a particular weightlifting technique.
It is well known that aerobic exercise leads to skeletal muscle, cardiovascular, and metabolic adaptations, and that’s precisely what adapted aerobics programs aim to do. For example, cardio adaptations can include increased cardiac output and stroke volume, which contributes significantly to increasing one’s maximum oxygen consumption. Anyone with or without a disability or limitations can experience their body adapting to these new levels of pressure on the body. Your heart, lung, and other physical aspects adapt and change to function accordingly and to meet the new limits challenged.
General Fitness training programs are designed to help you work towards the broad goals of your overall health and condition, rather than narrow goals.
Physical therapy assistants or instructors are recommended here. These are qualified people who make personal, tailored fitness plans for you.
They document your recovery process and help you through it by making the required changes as you progress through your TBI journey.
Group fitness programs, and going to the gym in general, is a fantastic way to build a support group for your recovery journey, as well as establishing important and healthy social interactions. You can meet new people and feel empowered and motivated to continue through your physical and mental adaptations. Best of all, the Group Fitness A.P.E programs are free. If you’re finding that you can’t afford physical therapy with your current condition, A.P.E is a great, inexpensive alternative as well as a brilliant resource to supplement additional therapy for those who want it. Consider A.P.E programs if you’re struggling financially but still want to find yourself progressing towards recovery with the help, motivation, and equipment to do so.
My name is Nolan McDonnell, a TBI survivor, and I am sharing adaptive P.E. with you because this has been one of the greatest things to happen, as a TBI treatment, during my recovery. Every adaptive P.E. (APE) gym is set up different and you could have a completely different experience than I have. However, if you are interested in more TBI treatment options than APE might be right for you.