Wheelchair Basketball

Adaptive Sport Equipment Opens New Doors

· Blog Posts, Sports, Wheelchair Basketball · Comments Off on Adaptive Sport Equipment Opens New Doors

Hello All,

This is another old post from our previous website. We will begin posting new content on a regular basis starting this week. However, since we wanted to share some older material today. Enjoy!

The month of October is very exciting this year!  That is because we have begun the preliminary wheelchair basketball games leading up the main event, our 3rd Annual Abilities Tip-Off on Nov. 16th.  On Oct. 5th we gathered at Wilkes University for our first preliminary event, and on Oct. 19th we will be holding our next event at Misericordia University.  We will also be holding prelims on Nov. 1 at Lackawanna College, and on Nov. 15 at the University of Scranton.

One of our goals for this webpage has always been to celebrate every individual’s abilities.  There is so much that can be done if each of us focuses on our abilities even in a small way.  By doing this we can build up positive attitudes and become better each day.  Sometimes there are obstacles that must be overcome in order to participate in activities in a healthy way.  It is one goal of our group is to make the general public aware of obstacles which individuals who have spinal cord injuries, or use wheelchairs, may face.  In this way, our Annual Abilities Tip-Off brings a fun event to the public and allows us to spread awareness in our community, celebrating what we can do.

In this post, I would like to begin our focus on ways in which adaptive sports equipment has helped open new doors for individuals with disAbilities.  The majority of adaptive sports came into existence after WWII, when returning injured veterans began looking for ways to participate in more activities.  However, one of the most popular adaptive sports, wheelchair basketball, can trace its roots to 1944, and the work of Ludwig Guttmann.

Ludwigg Guttmann, a pioneer for adaptive sports.

Ludwig Guttmann

Guttman was a Jewish doctor who fled Nazi Germany, for Britain, just before the start of WWII.  He was a neurosurgeon by trade, but in 1944, because of experience that he had with spinal cord injuries, the British government asked him to establish the National Spinal Cord Injuries Center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire.  A major part of Dr. Guttmann’s philosophy was that sport was a major therapy method for those veterans returning from the war.  Not only did sports help these individuals build up physical strength, but also, they were able to maintain self-respect.  Though Dr. Guttmann’s adaptations for basketball were a little different from how the sport is played today, it is important to note his influence on the American version of the game.  In addition, Dr. Guttmann was the first organizer of the Stoke Mandeville Games, which was held on the same day as the start of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.  These games continued every year after, and are now known as the Paralympic Games.Diagram of wheelchair parts.

So what about the equipment for basketball?  Well, even though this was one of the earliest games adapted, it was played using regular wheelchairs for quite awhile.  Usually, a sport must be rather popular before specialized equipment is created for it, and it wasn’t until the 1980’s that wheelchair basketball athletes, alongside wheelchair manufacturers, began developing lightweight chairs that are quick, durable, and can turn on the spot.  Now they come with many additional fixtures, and are made with sets of three of four wheels.

Though wheelchair basketball has become an iconic activity in the US, there are other adaptive sports that are beginning to hold there own.  Join us next time for a look at our next sport.  We will leave it a surprise… 🙂


A History of Wheelchair Basketball

· Blog Posts, Sports, Wheelchair Basketball · Comments Off on A History of Wheelchair Basketball

This is another throwback.  This time we take you back to 2013, when we were preparing for our 2nd Annual Abilities Tip-Off:



In keeping with the theme of our upcoming event, the Second Annual Abilities Tip Off, we thought it would be cool to discuss the history of wheelchair basketball.  Basketball is one of the most well-developed sports for wheelchair users in the United States, and with good reason.  It has been played for over 60 years.  Here’s a look at the story:

At the end of WWII, many veterans returning from the fronts in Europe were left paralyzed, or confined to wheelchairs as a result of injuries that they sustained.  Many where left frustrated, lacking an outlet for pent-up energy.

What better way to release this energy than to participate in sports?  Many veterans began to play pool, ping-pong, and catch.  Soon participation extended to bowling, swimming, volleyball, water-polo, softball, touch football, and basketball.

In 1946, the California Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America played the first match of wheelchair basketball.  Two weeks later the New England Chapter held a match.  Before long, wheelchair basketball spread across the nation to VA hospitals in Boston, Chicago, Memphis, Richmond and New York. The sport eventually spread across the border to Canada and across the ocean to England.

By 1948 there were six teams in the United States, all members of the PVA and all functioning from VA hospitals.

The first wheelchair basketball team outside of a VA hospital was the Kansas City Wheelchair Bulldozers.


In April of 1949, a group of University of Illinois students, working under the inspired and tireless efforts of Tim Nugent, Director of Rehabilitation, formed the first National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament. That was the beginning of the sport as we know it today.  Earlier wheelchair tournaments, held by the PVA, were only open to paraplegic or spinal cord injured veterans.  The newer NWB Tournament was more inclusive and allowed for the participation of civilians with injuries.

At first, the organization only included men, but in 1974 women began to be included in tournaments and regular game-play on men’s teams, and later in a women’s division.

And the organization continues to push forward.  In the fall of 1991, the Congress of USA Basketball voted to admit the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) as an active member, following eleven years as an Associate Member. Appointed to the Board of Directors was the NWBA Commissioner, Stan Labanowich. The action represented a significant advance in the integration of the sport into the national governing body.

Rules of the Game:

The rules of wheelchair basketball are very similar to the basic rules of basketball.  Here are the main points:

  • The court is the same size, the basket is at the same height, and the scoring is identical: two points for a regular shot from open play, one point for each successful free throw and three points for a shot from behind the three point line.
  • Players move the ball around the court by passing or dribbling, and are required to throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the wheels on their chairs to avoid being penalised for travelling.
  • There are 12 players in each team, with no more than five on court.
  • Games last for 40 minutes, split into four 10-minute quarters. The clock stops for every break in play and teams can call time-outs which last one minute.

So there you have it.  A quick look at a sport that is fast, fun to play, and entertaining to watch.

*Some information for this post was cited from www.nwba.org. Click this link for more information.