An Alternative Means of Locomotion: The Skateboard



Many devices have been developed through the years to aid those with limited mobility. One has only to look at the ..lccent on Living Buyer's Guide' under "Mobility Aids" to be aware of some of the variety available, or to check several back issues of the Inter-Clinic Information Bulletin for various devices, including the CAPP cart. One factor which perhaps has not been emphasized enough is the ingenuity of the individual concerned. It costs nothing and is available to all. What a child uses depends on many factors, but we must consider the child and his or her desires and comfort above all. A case in point is presented here.

Case Report

S.C. was born February 16, 1968, with skeletal limb deficiencies as follows:

  • Right upper limb--terminal transverse hemimelia
  • Left upper limb--partial longitudinal aphalangia of ray 5 with deformity of ray 4 and
  • webbing between rays 2 and 3, thumb normal
  • Both lower limbs----amelia with nubbins of soft tissue.

He was initially seen in another clinic but has been followed at Sunnyview since April 1973 for local care. At this time he has a conventional above-elbow prosthesis and bilateral lower-limb prostheses with a Canadian bucket. He still returns to his original clinic for major prosthetic care.

His case was presented as a "problem case" by this therapist at the 1973 Clinic Chiefs' meeting in Atlanta, Georgia; and subsequently, application was made for a CAPP cart. This device was received in July of that year, and S.C. received extensive training in its operation. The cart was used in school from that time until the spring of 1978, when he decided that he no longer wanted to use it. He had by that time, with the help of his brother, learned how to use a skateboard very well (Figure 1. ).

Skateboards are readily available in a variety of specifications. The one S.C. finds preferable at this time is a "slalom" type, very flexible and easily steered by shifts of body weight. He is able to maneuver a slalom course with this board, can go up and down hills, use a skateboard ramp (Figure 2. ), and even do handstands (Figure 3. ). He can readily go from it to floor or chair and travels as far as two miles from his home for such activities as "touring the neighborhood," visiting friends, and shopping. His father commented that he now "knows" the neighborhood, including street names and layout. He even rides down his driveway balancing on his hand and residual right upper limb! He is looking forward to winter and the snowboard" he will be getting. With this, he will finally achieve his dream of skiing!"

S.C. maintains his ability to use his prostheses through exercise periods but generally chooses to go without them. With his nearly normal arm and a very flexible torso, he gets around exceedingly well. He is able to climb stairs and trees, things that he cannot do with his prostheses.

S.C. also has a conventional wheelchair, but he is not independent with this.


Numerous mobility aids are available for the physically limited: wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, and various electric carts. All are expensive, and most require special "know-how" to maintain. Parts are often difficult to obtain. Many are difficult to put into a car or otherwise move from place to place.

Skateboards are relatively inexpensive, easily portable, readily available, and require little maintenance (Figure 4. ). If it works for the child, why not!



  1. Accent on Living Buyer's Guide, Accent Special Publications, Cheever Publications, Bloomington, Illinois, 26--36, 1978.