Sporttherapie Schweizer Paraplegiker Zentrum

Sports Therapy

Sports therapy, in the interdisciplinary rehabilitation team, uses the instruments of sport to achieve rehabilitation objectives, for example improving strength, endurance, mobility, and movement coordination.

The patient’s rehabilitation objectives are pursued in close collaboration with the treating physiotherapists. The overriding goal for the patient is the highest possible level of participation, and therefore the best possible integration into social life. Sports therapy is not solely focused on optimising motor skills, but also on improving abilities in the wheelchair and promoting motivation to take part in sporting activity on a lifelong basis. In addition, regular sporting activity supports the prevention of diseases associated with a lack of exercise, which are even more significant in wheelchair users than they are for able-bodied people.

Individual and group therapy

The Sports Therapy Department at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre (SPC) offers daily group and individual therapies focused on the functions and objectives of individual patients. The patients have access to the sports hall, indoor swimming pool, weight room, archery range, table tennis room, athletics area, and the entire SPC premises. Alongside this, group therapies offer space to share experience from patient to patient – supporting social interaction and integration.

Strength, endurance, and balance

  • The innervated muscles are trained in the weights room. In addition, a custom training programme is put together for each individual patient to support them in improving strength, coordination, muscle-building and strength endurance. A physiotherapist or sports therapy therapist is available in the weights room for several hours every day, offering support for individual training.

  • Group training takes place to increase endurance on arm and leg rowing machines. The training programme for the endurance group is built up over a total of four weeks. During this period, group members complete 3 endurance training sessions per week, using an interval or endurance method, with instruction. They then have the opportunity to continue their endurance training independently or, where applicable, to attend the group a second time.

  • Archery in small groups is used to not only to strengthen the shoulder and arm muscles, but also to stabilise the back, increase concentration, and practise balance. Archery can be performed in a seated position in the wheelchair, seated without support, kneeling or standing. In the case of patients with restricted hand function, there are various aids available to make the shooting technique simpler.

  • The swimming group provides the opportunity to refine and train in various swimming and running techniques (with buoyancy vests). A variety of goals can be worked towards, such as cardiovascular training, improving backstroke or training leg movement. In order to achieve the greatest possible level of independence, training in various techniques of transferring in and out of the swimming pool is provided by way of preparation.

  • In addition to dexterity and reaction capability, the game of table tennis requires good concentration and good balance in the wheelchair or when standing. The reactive group game activates the entire innervated musculature, and can be played either sitting or standing.


  • Wheelchair users, electric wheelchair users, and (partially) able-bodied people can all take part in Rolli-Fit at the same time. In low-dose therapy, simple mobility, stretching, strength-building and relaxation exercises can be learned and performed even in the initial phase of rehabilitation. In this process, exercises are individually adapted to the respective patient’s existing functions.

  • Coordination, endurance and stability in the wheelchair, along with wheelchair mechanics, are applied and improved in adapted playing situations. In groups, various games and types of sports are presented and attempted, and can also be continued after departure, during free time or in a wheelchair club. Sports training is conducted at two levels of intensity: Game 1: various small games without physical contact, with or without handheld devices Game 2: various sporting games (e.g. basketball, badminton or floorball) with body contact in a manual wheelchair or sports wheelchair

  • During city training in Lucerne, users of wheelchairs with and without electric drive, as well as able-bodied people, can apply the techniques trained during therapy. In city training, participants try out travelling by train or bus, mounting or coming down from pavements, dealing with steps, travelling on escalators, and walking and driving on cobblestone streets and inclines. The small groups are led by occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and sports therapists.

  • In technique training, it is necessary to find the best and most economic propulsion technique possible. In addition, the patients are confronted with everyday obstacles they are likely to face such as ramps, steps or pavements, in order to gain the best possible level of safety in the wheelchair. Technique training is offered at two levels of difficulty: Level 1: Riding on 4 wheels, tipping over thresholds and small steps, handling the wheelchair in a domestic environment. Level 2: Riding and balancing on rear wheels, being able to travel over smaller and larger steps and ramps, dealing with everyday obstacles outside the home.

Additional sports services

  • The first time trying a hand cycle, recumbent bike, or recumbent foot pedal bike is generally offered as a one-to-one therapy. Weekly group training in using hand bikes and recumbent bikes will also be available from 2018.

  • Paddling for complete novices is available several times a year in the SPC swimming pool. Kayaks provide great support for coordination, endurance, balance when seated and torso stability. At the same time, strength and timing must also be used correctly to move the vessel safely and in the right direction.

  • The Sports Therapy department offers 2–3 open house wheelchair mono-ski days every year for interested skiers and winter sports enthusiasts. Wheelchair mono-ski technique is taught and practised in one-to-one lessons. Experienced ski instructors from the Sörenberg ski school have received training specifically in the use of mono-skis with wheelchair users. The mono-ski requires strength, endurance, and good coordination.

Seasonal sports services

In addition, the Sports Therapy department offers seasonal sports services (in groups or, where needed, as individual therapy) to try, such as:

  • Lake swimming

  • Diving
  • Wheelchair racing
  • Tennis
  • Indoor curling

At the end of rehabilitation, patients are offered the opportunity to take part in regular club training together with external wheelchair athletes, in collaboration with the Swiss Paraplegics Association (SPA) and the Zentralschweiz Wheelchair Club.

Our specialists

  • Oberson Pirmin-Therapiemanagement

    Pirmin Oberson

    Co-Head of Therapy Management
  • Jessica Decker

    Jessica Decker

    Co-Head of Therapy Management


Administration office hours

Monday to Thursday:
8 am to midday
1 pm to 5 pm

8 am to midday
1 pm to 4 pm

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