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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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Week 8 Video Tip: Dressing for the Occasion


Download PDF copy of this week's tip sheet

Watch this week's video clip by Sheila Swann-Guerrero, Information Specialist at NCPAD, to learn about some important considerations to take into account when dressing for exercise or physical activity.



Video Clip Text

Clothing is an important consideration for all individuals, but it is even more important for people with disabilities, and especially when participating in water activities whether in or on or around water. Awareness of one's own limitations is very important because it will allow you to make the best choices based upon your individual needs. Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature becomes dangerously low (below 95 degrees). Hyperthermia occurs when your body temperature becomes dangerously high (above 100 degrees). It is important to know your own tolerance for heat or cold and that you share that information with the people who will be with you while you are on or near the water.

Care should be taken to ensure that clothing:

  • Does not restrict movement
  • Protects against the weather
  • Can be easily added to or removed, allowing for changes in temperature
  • And does not get in the way of the activity

Good choices for cooler temperatures include synthetic materials that fit snugly. For warmer temperatures, clothing should be lightweight. Tightly woven cotton that is loosely fitting is a good choice. Clothing that is too tight can restrict blood flow and reduce mobility, while clothing that is too loose can get in the way. It is important to remember that cotton will absorb water and add extra weight, which does make it a poor choice in wet or rainy weather or for water based activities.

When spending time in the outdoors, the basic rule of thumb is the layering system. This system uses three layers

  • The first "base" layer should include a lightweight synthetic layer whose job is to remove moisture from the body. This allows the body to maintain a safe core body temperature and avoid hypothermia. A good wicking fabric will attract liquid moisture and use body heat to convert this to liquid vapour. Polypropylene and Polyester fabrics are best for this. Beware of cotton clothing which can absorb more than its weight in water and transfers heat away from your body quicker than dry air.
  • The second layer is an insulation layer. Ideally, the second layer will relate to the amount of activity and the outdoor temperature. If the weather outside is extremely cold, then a heavier fleece or liner should be used. This layer should be highly breathable and preferably not waterproof.
  • The third is the shell. The shell is important because it acts as the first line of defense against the outside environment and should be weather resistant. When choosing a shell, technologically enhanced fabrics are excellent options, such as Gore-Tex. However these can be costly, so basic windbreakers can be good selections as well. With a proper layering system, they can be adjusted as the activity progresses if needed. If the individual becomes cold, a layer can be added. If the individual becomes too warm, it is easy to remove a layer.

Individuals who use wheelchairs often have poor circulation in their legs due to a lack of motion and from a prolonged amount of time in a sitting position. Also, individuals who use wheelchairs often have limited (if any) sensation in the lower legs. This can be a concern when choosing the proper clothing. One might need extra clothing at or around the legs and should closely monitor his/her body. Ways to monitor the body include looking for visible signs of distress or discomfort; any discoloration of skin, both exposed as well as under clothing, and skin that is excessively cool or hot to touch. For individuals with limited motor control, garments that are easy to dress and undress are also good choices. Some important clothing features to look for are large zippers, Velcro straps, large buttons, snaps, and large sleeve cuffs with draw strings.

One final but easily forgotten point - heads, hands and feet. It's easy to forget about hats, gloves and an extra warm pair of socks. Up to 40% of the bodies heat can be lost through the extremities.

For Warm Weather, some important items to remember are:

  • Hat to shade your neck and face from the sun
  • Drinking water to prevent dehydration
  • Sun block to protect any skin that is exposed - must be waterproof and must be reapplied often.
  • Sunglasses - to protect the eyes

 These items are especially important for those who are taking medications that make them sensitive to the sun or to warm temperatures.

A quick pointer for women to remember when participating in swimming and other water activities for women is that you may want to consider a two-piece bathing suit as it makes trips to the restroom easier.

We have listed some resources on our 14-week page that may assist you in locating clothing that meets your needs for your desired activity. Feel free to contact us with any questions at 312-996-5965.

Resources:

NCHPAD Water Safety Factsheet at http://www.ncpad.org/76/567/Water~Safety/a>

Able Apparel http://www.ableapparel.com/

Campmor Equipment and Clothing http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Home_

Cool Sport http://www.coolsport.net/index2.html

Discovery Trekking Outfitters http://www.discoverytrekking.ca/

Easy Access Clothing http://www.easyaccessclothing.com/

Empire Canvas Works http://www.empirecanvasworks.com/

Glacier Tek http://www.glaciertek.com/

My Pool Pal http://www.mypoolpal.com/

Shop on the Net http://www.shop-onthenet.com/

Silver Threads http://www.escapesclothing.com/

Simplantex http://www.simplantex.co.uk /

Wardrobe Wagon http://www.wardrobewagon.com/


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