Venting – life in a wheelchair – great post


UO students work to improve equipment for disabled athletes

UO students work to improve equipment for disabled athletes
By Allan Brettman / The Oregonian
Last modified: May 07. 2012 5:55AM PST
PORTLAND — As a wheelchair rugby athlete, Will Groulx has grown accustomed to making do with a hodgepodge of equipment.

He fashioned his own gripping gloves from a pair designed for gardening. He keeps cool by spritzing himself with a water bottle during breaks in games. Other aspects of his chair have been modified by hand.

Groulx, paralyzed from the chest down in a 2001 motorcycle accident, plays for the Portland Pounders. The team won four matches to qualify for the championship last month at the United States Quad Rugby Association Championship, where it lost 51-46 to a team from Tuscon, Ariz.

Groulx, who was recently named to the USQRAC all-tournament team, was among four disabled athletes earlier this year who participated in a University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts product design class in Portland. Working with a current and former shoe designer for Nike, the students created prototype products intended to make competitive life easier for their temporary clients.

The class designed several products for Groulx, a 38-year-old Navy veteran.

“With all the different things,” Groulx said, “I was pretty amazed.”

Which is not to say he’ll be using the products any time soon. More on that later.

The other athletes included triathlete Gabriella Rosales, whose right arm never fully developed because of a birth defect; Joel Rosinbum, a former University of Portland rower injured in a 2007 skiing accident who is now a member of the USA ParaTriathlon National Team; and Brandon Robins, a professional boarding athlete whose right leg below the knee was amputated after a 2009 off-road motorcycle accident.

Instructors Wilson Smith and Bob Lucas emphasized to their 16 students that listening, as much as creating, was essential. Smith often repeated Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman’s quote that “if you have a body, you are an athlete.”

Smith and Lucas had been a team before teaching “Adaptive Products: Enabling Athletes with Disabilities,” as both started as designers at Nike in the mid-1980s.

Nike designer Matt Rhoades also assisted the class.

“Their enthusiasm,” student Ariana Budner said, “was propelling.”

Groulx, who has a Nike sponsorship agreement that supplies him with equipment and apparel, was impressed with the star treatment.

“It really seemed like the students listened to what I was saying,” said Groulx.

Budner sought to create a better seat for Groulx’s handcycle.

The handcycle is a sleek contraption, especially compared to his beat-up competition rugby chair. And handcycle racing is a growing passion for the former University of Tennessee volleyball player.

Another product looked promising: padded gripping gloves designed for optimal push across a playing floor to be used in combination with a dimpled disc wheel.

“The design was pretty amazing,” Groulx said.

But, “it was almost too sticky … it was kind of tearing the gloves up.”

Groulx, though, said he saw potential in a compression and cooling vest developed by student Ryan Fiorentino.

Fiorentino, for his part, said the class was one of his best ever.

“The whole process was less about my design,” he said, “and more about: ‘How can we be a team and bring both of our skills and understanding to the table and create a solution that is potentially a game changer?’”

This Article brought to you by DASA Sports.

Disabled Sports Club Test blog post

thia is a test of the blog

Competitive Sports Programs

As our recreational programs have become so successful at creating stronger, healthier and more confident disables athletes, our competitive programs expand to offer more opportunities to excel.

DASA athletes compete regionally, nationally, and internationally striving for the Paralympics. DASA boasts National Championship titles in Power Soccer and Sled Hockey. Individuals have broken National and International Swimming and Track and Field records.

Information on all recreational and competitive programs is on our website at
Please contact DASA to be put on our mailing list.

Recreational Sports Programs

Quarterly DASA offers an eight (8) week session of various recreational activities. DASA would like to provide every sport that our athletes would like to try. Some of our recreational activities include:
• Basketball
• Golf
• Kayaking/Biking
• Rock Climbing
• Scuba Diving
• Stand-up Soccer

Information on all recreational and competitive programs is on our website at
Please contact DASA to be put on our mailing list.

Summer Camps

Each summer DASA holds multiple summer camps around the St. Louis-metro area for children of varying disabilities. C A M P W E C A N D U brings children of all physical disabilities together for swimming, kayaking, scuba diving, ice skating, and more (activities depend upon location). Campers get opportunities to experience new athletic and sensor y activities each day.
Since 1991, The Mike Bush Fantasy Baseball Camp has provided baseball opportunities for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. In 2007, DASA accepted the reigns and continues to hold this camp each summer.

Our Athletes

DASA recruits individuals 5 years old and up to Adults with a permanent physical or visual disability who have difficulty participating in sports with non-disabled peers.
Athletes disabilities vary: hypotonia, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, amputee, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, etc.
DASA welcomes all Wounded Military Veterans to participate in adult programming. In addition to health and fitness, DASA emphasizes nutrition, family, never saying “can’t”, self-care, self-respect and instilling values in young people.