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Old 02-10-2009
gogglesnoseplugs gogglesnoseplugs is offline
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Default Cerebral Palsy

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?
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Old 02-10-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
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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Old 02-11-2009
terry terry is offline
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I can't know what it's like to swim with CP, but based on your description of fighting the water and becoming exhausted, you're experiencing the same things as many beginners who are fully abled. My sense is that most of the problems you report are related more to inefficiency than CP...which ought to be highly encouraging.
The most common causes for inefficiency - and their solutions - are described in Chapter 3 of the series of chapters from my next book, posted in the Outside the Box conference. If you've not read that chapter yet, why don't you do so now and let us know if any of those universal "problems" of new swimmers apply to you. If so, then you'll have some good news -- your sense of fighting the water and your exhaustion can be solved by learning new skills.
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Old 02-11-2009
gogglesnoseplugs gogglesnoseplugs is offline
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Just to let you know, I just registered to be a TI member last night, so I have not read any books yet. Even though I have financial strains, once I get my hands on the book, I'll give the suggestion a try.

The one thing that frustrates me most is that I understand "how" to swim, but do not "know" how to swim right. I watch others swim so gracefully and here I am in the pool struggling to swim just one length, hoping I am not freaking out the lifeguard.
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Old 02-11-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gogglesnoseplugs View Post
Just to let you know, I just registered to be a TI member last night, so I have not read any books yet. Even though I have financial strains, once I get my hands on the book, I'll give the suggestion a try.

The one thing that frustrates me most is that I understand "how" to swim, but do not "know" how to swim right. I watch others swim so gracefully and here I am in the pool struggling to swim just one length, hoping I am not freaking out the lifeguard.
Good news and bad news. Dealing with frustration is a part of swimming, at least at first. Throw a cat into the water and watch it's reaction during and after it goes for a "swim." If the cat can manage those feelings, it might become a graceful swimmer as well, though it will still take a long time to dry.

I think Terry is referring to his post of Chapter 3 located at http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/...read.php?t=181 That book hasn't been completed yet.

You can also get the free PDF that goes with the Easy Freestyle DVD here: http://archive.totalimmersion.net/ea...yle-manual.pdf
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Old 02-11-2009
gogglesnoseplugs gogglesnoseplugs is offline
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Oh ok... Thanks for the information to get me resituated.
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Old 02-11-2009
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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You don't mention where you live, but perhaps there is an association similar to this one available to you?
http://www.ccpsa.ca/
I first became familiar with this organization when their members started showing up to train for bike racing at the local velodrome some years ago. Many of them are still involved in bike racing, especially track. They get special coaching tailored to their specific needs, which is what you may need to get past your initial difficulties.
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Old 02-11-2009
gogglesnoseplugs gogglesnoseplugs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhoda View Post
You don't mention where you live, but perhaps there is an association similar to this one available to you?
http://www.ccpsa.ca/
I first became familiar with this organization when their members started showing up to train for bike racing at the local velodrome some years ago. Many of them are still involved in bike racing, especially track. They get special coaching tailored to their specific needs, which is what you may need to get past your initial difficulties.
I actually live in Northwest Ohio... I know there is a certified TI coach in Cleveland, but that is two hours away... I will check into other personal training sources... If I had the money, I would love to enroll in a TI workshop; but they also are not offered anywhere nearby.
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Old 02-11-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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A self-help (inexpensive) way to go about it is to watch videos (YouTube), have someone shoot video of you, compare the two, and make adjustments. It's known that athletes use visualisation. Why not us? The other part of it is just feeling your way.
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Old 02-12-2009
asbarden asbarden is offline
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Quote:
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?
I do not have CP but have worked with many children who do. Since I don't know you personally, these thoughts may be way off the mark. If so, please ignore them. Having said that:

I would echo Terry's response in that your struggles are likely pretty much the same as any beginning swimmer. However, there are probably two differences. (1) Although none of us are perfectly symmetrical you have more challenging assymetries of strength, tone and probably proprioception. Video might well help you more quickly recognize things you could change. Related to that, (2) most people with cerebral palsy need to devote considerable effort to motor planning. My guess is that spending extra time practicing, or as Terry says "imprinting," the proper positions with feet on bottom, before actually swimming, will help you a lot.

Good luck. Let us know how you progress.
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