16 / 07 / 2010
Hemiplegia (sometimes called hemiparesis) can affect up to one child in a thousand and literally means paralysis of half of the body. When someone has hemiplegia (‘hemi’ means ‘half’ in Greek) it is because one of the hemispheres of their brain is damaged. We talk about a left or right hemiplegia, depending on the side affected. The condition affects everyone differently, but its most obvious result is a varying degree of weakness and lack of control in one side of the body. Some sufferers are only mildly affected, others more seriously; in some the leg is more badly affected than the arm, in others it is the arm which is more seriously affected.
(The above information is used courtesy of www.hemihelp.org.uk
A person with hemiplegia can ski and enjoy the mountains with family and friends! Ski 2 Freedom has many clients who have discovered the joys of the snow and magic of the mountains. Most ski schools which have qualified instructors for disabled and adaptive skiing and snow sports should be able to work with children and adults who have balance issues and conditions relating to Hemiplegia.
Confidence on the snow is the key issue and it is well worth investing in the excellent private tuition that is on offer by the ski schools. Once the person has gained the basic skills then there is no reason why the family cannot all ski together - it is also a good idea to return to the same ski resort for a couple of winters just to maintain that special relationship and new found confidence.
Your initial enquiry to the ski school should include as much background information on the skier as possible. Discussing in detail the skier’s specific needs and condition(s) is VITAL to ensure both the ski school and you know what is going to happen and to ensure you are matched with the right ski instructor and/or equipment. This may include a discussion about other associated health and social needs such as epilepsy, asthma, communication and social awareness skills and any recent medical developments.
In some cases when a child is new to the slopes or not a very confident skier then why not have an hour or so on the piste and then take the opportunity of the instructor whizzing your child around the slopes with the rest of the family - he or she gets the chance to relax a bit and be with brothers, sisters, parent and friends! A lot of fun and laughter can be had!
Many of the ski schools have a good idea of what is required especially when it comes to equipment and clothing, in particular the ski boots. Do ensure that you ask the ski school if they can recommend a ski hire shop for such items. Whether special ski equipment is required will depend on the degree of the disability. In most cases a child can manage with an ordinary pair of skis, perhaps with a link system on the front to aid the snow-plough, but there is also the possibility of a Kart-ski or sit-ski.
As there are over 150 Ski schools in France alone with experience in disabled and adaptive skiing tuition, it is more than likely that whichever resort you choose there will be someone who will be able to help you. However, going somewhere where skiers with a similar condition have gone before, may well be a source of comfort and reassurance. We are delighted to be able to list below all of those schools, of which we have personal experience (clicking on the link will take you to our Accessible Resort Guide for further information on the ski school and resort): please note that these resorts are not yet uploaded to the Resort Guide please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in the meantime.
Evolution 2- Tignes (No clients as yet but some instructors have recently undertaken a course)
If you would like information on other ski resorts please contact us.
We are delighted to be able to share information and feedback from families who ski and understand the problems associated hemiplegia on our Personal Stories page.
Hemihelp - a UK based charity for people with Hemiplegia and their families
Association Hemiparesie - a France based charity for people with Hemiplegia and their families
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