Ability To Protect: Self Defense For Wheelchair Users

Last year, my son and I had the privilege to attend our very first “Metal & Muscle” Expo. The Houston Parks and Recreation Department along with the U.S. Paralympics,  Military Sports Program, TIRR Sports Memorial Hermann, displayed several types of wheelchair sporting events and competitions. While walking through the exhibit hall we had the choice of watching events ranging from Sitting Volleyball, Power Soccer, Challenge Slalom, Wheelchair Rugby, Air Gun Competition, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Racing & Amputee Walking/Running Clinic’s.

One area that caught my attention was the “Self-Defense” booth. Duane Stevenson is a Personal Trainer and owner of Monster Warrior Cross-training. Duane has had a disability since very early in his childhood. At the young age of 3 Duane was diagnosed with having tumors on his spine. Not able to walk on his own he learned to use forearm crutches to help with his ambulation.

I didn’t know of his condition until he told me. He talked with such a confidence that you knew he could handle himself just about anywhere under any circumstance. Mr. Stevenson went on to say that in the world we live in people with disabilities that are using wheelchairs everyday are just as susceptible to violent acts against them as any able body person. As I watched some of the techniques two of his students performed on a matted area in front of his booth, a gentlemen in a wheelchair rolled up to check it out. He asks a few questions and then proceeded to allow himself as a simulation partner with one of the students. Duane continued to tell me just how a person who uses a wheelchair might defend themselves from an attack. He went on to say that and most cases the disabled person just needs to buy some time during an altercation. Along with several tactical moves and just being prepared can make all the difference between living another day or becoming a statistic of a senseless act of crime.

Here’s the 5D’s of Self- Defense:

DECIDE – Training & Conditioning
DETER – Boundary Setting & Verbal Escalation
DISRUPT – Creating the Opportunity to Escape
DISENGAGE – Escape & Get Away
DEBRIEF – Promote Physical & Emotional Healing. Seek Support & Assistance

I started to think about how I might incorporate this new information with every client I meet. As an ATP my primary focus has been the selection of mobility equipment and accessibly options within the home. I’m sure someone that has been newly injured or has developed a medical condition that requires a wheelchair may not be thinking about self-defense at first. They are most likely overwhelmed by the fact that their life has changed 180 degrees from what they once knew. The fact that they not able to walk again is more than enough to think about. However, when it’s appropriate during some point of my time with them this subject may need to be on their “To Do List”! None of us never really knows what might be waiting for us around the corner?

I’m sure we never intend to find trouble, I’m just suggesting we all be prepared if trouble comes to find us. Duane has a great amount of knowledge in the area of self-defense for everyone in and out of a wheelchair. I found this out and I’m glad to pass the information along!

This article was re-posted from the Complex Rehab Network, an online community and resource for those folks involved in Rehab Seating and Positioning for adult and geriatric markets. Sponsored by Active American Mobility.

Photo Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by superwebdeveloper

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