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Adaptive bowling

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Adaptive bowling involves the use of devices to help people with disabilities more easily participate in the recreational sport of bowling. Bowling for those who were physically handicapped was first addressed towards the end of World War II; injured veterans, many who had amputations or who were paraplegics. Acceptance of individuals in the bowling world grew as assistive technology was created to help them return to bowling, even if they could no longer bowl the same way as prior to their injuries. Following paragraphs will address certain assistive devices that are used with bowling in order to make it more accessible to the masses.

There are many different types of adaptive equipment all geared at helping with one or all elements of bowling; the set up, the physical approach to the foul line, the back swing and the guided release of the ball. For ease of presentation the adaptive bowling devices have been divided into three main categories; wheelchair adaptations, bowling ball adaptations and ball rolling adaptations. Depending on the type and severity of the persons disability one or more of these devices might be necessary for them to be able to bowl.

Contents

Wheelchair Adaptations

For people using wheelchairs there are several different types of adaptations that can be made to the chair to make bowling easier.

Bradshaw Bowls Buggies

Patient bowling with the Bradshaw Bowls Buggie
Patient bowling with the Bradshaw Bowls Buggie

This is a special wheelchair designed for bowling. The wheels are wide and set under the chair so that they don't interfere with the bowling action (shown right). There is also a wide footplate in the front of the wheelchair which the user can rock into when they follow through with their bowling swing. The wheelchair can be dismantled into parts making it easy to transport. This type of adaptive device is designed for people with near normal upper extremity function who are wheelchair bound.

Bowling Ramps

IKAN Bowler ramp.
IKAN Bowler ramp.

Ramps are used to guide and release the ball onto the bowling alley. Ramps require very little physical effort to use and are more appropriate for people with higher levels of disability. This frame helps the individual to roll the ball towards the pins, even if he/she cannot physically hold or roll the ball. For example, a child with cerebral palsy could benefit from such a device. The metal unit varies in height based on its user, ranging from 24 to 28 inches tall. The width of the device (24-25 inches) also accommodates for users who may be confined to a wheel chair.During bowling the user will place the bowling ball on the ramp and either release it using a quick release button at the top of the ramp or using the momentum from moving forward in their wheelchair and stopping abruptly.

Several different companies sell ramps and it is also possible to make a cheap ramp at home from wood and metal pieces. One of the most popular bowling ramps is the IKAN Bowler with Universal Mount. The IKAN is the only ramp which is sanctioned for use in competition (shown right). Another popular system marketed to children is the Poss-i-bowl which has an push button that releases the ball from the top of the ramp. Both of these ramps as well as a variety of other ramp models are available at www.AdaptiveSportsEquipment.com When participating in competitions, those who used these devices are often put into their own league.

Bowling Ball Adaptations

Bowling Ball with handle.
Bowling Ball with handle.

Adaptations are made to the bowling ball for people who have trouble lifting bowling balls or placing their fingers into the 3 holes on the ball. This is more for people with arthritis and problems with hand dexterity.

Bowling Grip Handle

These handles come attached to bowling balls. The handle is spring loaded so once the handle is released it retracts allowing for the ball to roll down the alley with ease. There are a variety of ball weights and sizes that come with the handles. Access to Recreation is one company which sells several different variations of these adapted bowling balls.

Ball Rolling Adaptations

These are devices that help the user push and/or roll the ball more easily down the aisle. These devices are more useful for people who have trouble bending over and propelling the ball forward but are not necessarily wheelchair bound.

Bowling Ball Pusher

Two examples of pushers.
Two examples of pushers.

These are simple devices which can be operated from a standing or seated position. They have long arms and a grip at the end that conforms to the shape of the ball and allows the user to easily and accurately push the ball in a certain direction. There are several versions of ball pushers which can be bought online and they can also be pretty easily made from a PVC pipe or a broom. The main variation between the pushers is in the grip that contacts the ball. The user simply uses the device to push it down the lane, either in front or to the side of a wheelchair. If the armrest on the wheel chair cannot be removed, the bowler should obtain a higher seat cushion to allow for clearance when rolling the ball. It is important for the wheelchair’s brakes to be set before the individual begins to bowl.

One of the first pushers developed was The Bowling Arm which has a thumb or palm release to push the ball forward.

Product Links

External Links

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