Thread: Cerebral Palsy
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Old 02-10-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Originally Posted by gogglesnoseplugs View Post
I have cerebral palsy which affects my fine motor movement in my left arm. I always have wanted to pick up swimming as a therapeutic means of gaining strength and more use out of the arm. I have tried to start swimming, and I am finding I am fighting the water when stroking with my left arm instead of using the water to my advantage; in turn I am getting exhausted instead of enjoying swimming. Can someone help me out here?
CoachBillL might be able to offer better advice. I'll throw out a few ideas since I'm the first one to reply. I'm assuming you are working on the crawl stroke (freestyle).

In a TI book, I read that swimming, initially at least, is based on gross motor control, not so much fine motor control. The first thing to do is to relax and not worry about speed or power. You could isolate your arms by not kicking and maybe adding a pull buoy. A light flutter kick is fine as well. Then, do a catch-up drill with your arms.

Doing a catch-up drill basically means that you will have both arms extended in front of you. You will pull with one arm, then return it to the front before pulling with the other arm.

In a variation of this drill, you could hold something in your hand and pass it from one hand to the other to help stay focused on returning your hand to the front before switching to the other arm.

Another way you could do this is by only using one arm to stroke while leaving the other arm extended. Or you could hold one arm at your side while stroking with only the other arm.

Here's a dry-land idea. Use one of those elastic cord things and practise pulling against it. Sometimes I loop one around the leg on my diningroom table and practise my catch and pull. (And sometimes I hear my right shoulder making scary noises.) I put emphasis on light pressure at first, then on keeping the movement smoothe as I apply more power (Technically, I try to keep my elbow high and pull with my back "muscles" more.)

Also, if you have water "weights" available, like the ones used in aquatic exercise classes, they might be useful to work with; practise pressing them down using a catch/pull motion. That might be hard work.

Maybe sculling could be useful. It isn't a pulling motion, but it is a coordinated movement.

I'm wondering if you would do better with a stroke that requires simultaneaous arm movements, like breaststroke. Sidestroke is an almost opposite possibility.

Backstroke...backstroke might be a good way to practise arm movements while being able to breathe easily. You could even pull against the lane line.
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