I often get asked, "What's the best exercise equipment for someone living with a disability (stroke, spinal cord injury, amputation) to have at home to continue to exercise after rehab?"

While each person is different and working towards his or her specific goal, a few pieces of fitness equipment consistently stand out.

The cost of the items may vary from inexpensive to very expensive, but each has been used consistently during training sessions with great benefit and results reported by my clients.

From 10 to 1 here are my top ten Adaptive pieces of disability fitness equipment:

10. UBE or Arm Cycle                                

There are several different kinds, from big free standing machines with or without seats (for wheelchair user) to table top models. They vary greatly in cost depending on which one you opt for.

This is a great tool to use as a warm up tool to loosen your shoulder joints, improve circulation, and increase your heart rate. I usually instruct using a high intensity/ low intensity cycle (30 seconds fast/30 seconds slow) for 5-10 minutes.

9. Gripping Gloves/Wheelchair push Gloves

Gripping gloves are great for those with impaired hand movement or strength. The glove allows you to hold an object to perform a lift or pull when using dumbbells or a weight machine.

Active Hands

Learn more about grip gloves here: http://www.activehands.co.uk/

Push gloves are perfect for someone in a wheelchair that's using wheelchair pushing for cardio. These gloves allow you to work on speed and quick movement in your manual chair while decreasing your risk of injury to your hands. You can check this glove out here:

Push Gloves: Gloves for Life

8. Cuff weights/Dumbbells                                                       

Cuff weights or dumbbells are an excellent way to add resistance to movement and challenge you to improve. The dumbbells can be used with your grip gloves.

Perform Better has a series of cuff weights. You can find them here:

Cuff Weights

7. Theraband                                               

Often your therapist will give you a Therabrand along with a home exercise program; you can also buy rolls of 25 yards (you don't need more than that). The order of resistance is according to color: Yellow-very light resistance; red-light resistance; green-medium resistance; blue-medium to heavy resistance; black-heavy resistance.

Everyone should start at the lightest and work their way up.

Perform Better also features Therabands for sale:


6. Medicine ball with or without handles

I've used these balls to work on core strength, balance, and coordination and overall upper extremity strengthening. You can use your gripping gloves if you have limited use of one or both of your hands.

Perform Better also features medicine balls

Medicine Balls

5. Gymboss timer or boxing fitness timer         

THE best timer for interval training. You can set the number of rounds and your cycles of high intensity/low intensity and just listen to the beeps for your rest and start times.

Check it out here: http://www.gymboss.com/

I love to incorporate some form of boxing techniques to adaptive fitness workouts. I've referenced research articles that support boxing fitness using the Wii for stroke rehab.

The boxing fitness timer can be set for 2 minute rounds or 3 minute rounds and rest periods of 30 seconds or 1 minute.

You can also set it for 1 round up to 12 rounds. I've had clients hitting the heavy bag or working on combinations according to this timer.

4. Heavy bag with stand/speed bag

What I like about this heavy bag stand is that you can use it if you're in a wheelchair or standing. The speed bag can be lowered but still kept high enough to have you reaching overhead and challenging your range of motion and muscle endurance. The heavy bag is set perfect for you to go at it working on combinations, trunk balance reaching with

You can look at the details at www.titleboxing.com

3. Vitaglide                                                     

Not everyone is a boxing fan, so for those that aren't here's a great alternative. The Vitaglide is a great way to work on strength and cardiovascular endurance. Use your gripping gloves to secure your hands on the handles and begin working on pushing and pulling movements on a cycle of high and low intensity with you gym boss timer.

Check out the Vitaglide at http://www.southwestmedical.com/products/Vitaglide-Wheelchair-Fitness-Machine-27382.html

2. Total Gym XLS                                               

The total gym is great when working on weight bearing in gravity lessened positions to improved mind muscle communication and strength. You can also get a great upper body, back, and trunk workout with the total gym.

Check it out at http://www.totalgymdirect.com/total-gym-xls.php


Once only available in the rehab setting, the FES bike is now available for purchase. The price tag is a hefty one, but if you want it for your home use it can be had.

This bike uses electrodes to assist the user in cycling their legs or arms or both. It can track user sessions to record progress and even has some game features for you to use while cycling.

Details can be found at the company's website: http://www.restorative-therapies.com/