This past week, our summer intern, Sheridyn, collaborated with BIIS athlete, Jillian, to fabricate custom “push rim” wheelchair racing gloves.

Already a star on the wheelchair basketball court with Team PRIDE, Jillian is excited to join her high school track team this coming spring to compete in wheelchair racing. In North Carolina, youth with permanent physical disabilities are eligible to be on their school’s track and field teams, competing for points at local, regional and state meets.

In wheelchair racing, athletes use specialized racing chairs with thick push rims. Instead of gripping the rims while racing (which would reduce momentum) racers repeatedly ‘pound’ down on the rims with padded gloved fists.

Jillian’s previous gloves were too small, causing discomfort and inhibiting her ability to comfortably participate in track. However, new push rim gloves start at around $200 and new custom versions run even higher. As an occupational therapy student, Sheridyn had some experience creating custom splints from thermoplastic materials and was able to consult with Jillian to plan a design for the gloves and create them for her ON-SITE at Bridge II Sports!

The ‘blocks’ are made from aquaplast beads, which were melted down and formed to the exact fit of Jillian’s palms and fingers to make the custom mold of the glove. Then, thick racing rubber was attached to the outer surface to provide a durable surface for shock absorption and traction as the gloves make contact with the rim. Finally, moleskin was attached to the inner portions to prevent rubbing and blistering. Our expert DIY method was much more cost effective and should last Jillian well into her new track career. We can’t wait to watch Jillian succeed in yet another sport! Go, Jillian!

10 pictures in various stages of Bridge 2 Sports youth athlete making molds of her hands to fabricate wheelchair racing gloves

Thank you Heather (Jillian’s mom) for the awesome collage of the block making process!

Wes Hall assisting young athlete find balance in wheelchair racing chair. Athlete is sitting opposite Wes with hands on rim.

Wes Hall, Director of Programs, teaching Jillian the parts of the racing chair after a PRIDE wheelchair basketball practice earlier this year.