Have a Therapeutic Summer!

Alison Lichy, PT, DPT, NCS
Owner and practicing physical therapist at NeuroPT in Falls Church, Virginia

The long days of summer are so inviting.

For stroke survivors, outdoor sports provide opportunities to challenge yourself both physically and mentally due to an unpredictable and changing environment. Meeting new challenges can be empowering to a survivor. Here are some fun outdoor activities that also have great therapeutic value.

Adaptive golf

Golf is a great social and therapeutic activity. From putting around or getting out on the course, golf involves balance and coordination of the upper extremities, trunk and legs. If walking or standing is a challenge, many public golf courses have adaptive golf carts. Just plan ahead, these carts need to be reserved to be delivered to the course you choose.


Horseback riding is a favorite outside activity for many. Survivors have reported feeling a difference in their walking after riding, specifically getting a great stretch in the hips and decreased tone in the leg muscles. Some report the weight shifting of the horse and the exercise of their core while riding improved their balance and alignment with walking.

Adaptive cycling

Cycling is growing in popularity and trails are being made more accessible. There are new options for power-assist wheels that can make cycling more feasible and fun. A quick internet search on ‘power assisted tricycles’ or ‘power assisted bicycles’ will bring up a number of sites with information or that sell these cycles. Cycling is a fun cardiovascular activity that can be enjoyed with friends and family. Local chapters of the following organizations often provide adapted cycles for participants:

Disabled Sports USAAdaptive Adventures  MedStar National Rehabilitation Network

Adaptive water sports

For those who enjoy the water, canoeing, kayaking and sailing are great outdoor therapeutic activities. These water sports are great for balance and encouraging whole body coordination. Often local groups can assist in instruction and adaptations as needed. The following organizations offering theses services:

Disabled Paddlers Association

In the Baltimore area, Baltimore Adapted Recreation & Sports

Tai chi and yoga

Tai chi and yoga are great activities that can be practiced inside and outdoors. Both can be done sitting or standing while focusing on breathing, balance, coordination, posture and the positive flow of energy. A major difference between tai chi and yoga is the fluidity of the movement. Tai chi movements are constantly moving from one posture to the next. Yoga focuses on the slow flow of movements from one position to the next. The focus of yoga is maintaining and holding each pose. A 2012 study reported benefits in yoga that include improved balance, improved quality of life, reduced fear of falling and increased independence with daily activities.

Bocce ball

Bocce ball is growing in popularity and is now a Paralympics sport. Bocce ball is a great team sport that can be played from a wheelchair or standing. There is strategy to the game, which can be mentally stimulating along with being physically challenging.

General Resources

Disabled Sports USA is a resource for more information on fitness. This website provides links to local chapters or you can search by specific sports.

National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability has information on nutrition and physical activity for people with disabilities.

This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.

See also: 

Cruisin' Together

Learning to Swim Again

Stroke Connection. Get the app for free.


- Advertisement -

This link is provided for convenience only and is not an endorsement or recommendation of either the linked-to entity or any product or service.

AD. Amramp Making Life Accessible. 20 years. Be accessible to everyone. Protect your clients & their caregivers from slip and fall accidents. 888-715-7599. Click here for more info.

AD: American Stroke Association-American Heart Association logo. Did you know that about 1 in 4 stroke survivors have a second stroke? Learn more.


Ad: American Heart Association logo. American Diabetes Associaiton logo. Know diabetes by heart logo. Living with diabetes? Inspire others. Submit story button.


AD. American Heart Association logo. Know your blood pressure numbers. And what they mean. Gain Control.  Learn more.


Ad: American Heart Association Support Network. Facing recovery after a stroke or heart disease diagnosis can be overwhelming. You are not alone. Our community is here for you. Join us today. heart.org/SupportNetwork.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Helping Others Understand

Stroke affects people differently and many of the effects of stroke can be complicated. Helping friends and family understand how a stroke is affecting a survivor can help everyone involved.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!