Leveraging momentum with muscular dystrophy


I was at a doctor’s appointment five years ago and told the doctor I had started playing wheelchair tennis. Since he had just tested my arms strength, he looked at me like I was nuts and asked, “How do you do that?”

“Momentum,” I said as I demonstrated by swinging my arm using the rest of my body.

My doctors usually test strength in isolated areas, like just the bicep or just the tricep, etc. But when all my muscles work together I can generate a lot of momentum and do things with my arms that would be unexpected, like swing a tennis racket.

Another example of momentum coming in handy is reaching for things. Sure I cannot lift either of my arms above my shoulder, but if I swing that arm, I can reach much much higher.

My electric wheelchair also helps me generate momentum. When I am changing the sheets on my bed, for example, I grab the pillows one by one and spin my wheelchair around like I’m a shot putter and launch the pillows onto the couch. This motion also helps for tennis but for things like throwing a frisbee or a ball as well.

Momentum also helps me get into and out of bed. After sitting on the side of my bed and pulling my left leg onto it, it’s the momentum created by tipping myself over which helps swing my trailing leg up into bed with me. Same goes for getting out of bed.

I also leverage momentum with life in general. As I stay on track with work tasks, get out of the house, hang out with family and friends, and do the things I love to do, I create momentum in my life and don’t allow myself to get bored, depressed, or angry.

My ability to function would surely be much more difficult without momentum. How do you leverage momentum?

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