Blood disorders are often debilitating conditions to suffer from and in many cases they prevent sufferers from leading the active lifestyles their family and friends often take for granted.
Haemophilia is actually not one but a group of blood disorders that impairs the body’s ability to control blood coagulation or clotting with Haemophilia A being the most common form – it occurs approximately once in every 5,000 – 10,000 births – and Haemophilia B, the next most common form, occurring once in around 20,000 – 34,000 births.
As haemophilia impairs the body’s ability to control blood coagulation and clotting, haemophiliacs must take measures to ensure they don’t injure themselves which means that some physical activities, especially high-risk extreme sports like BMX or skateboarding, are off-limits.
This, however, doesn’t mean that those with haemophilia can’t lead an active lifestyle, though it does mean they need to pick the activities and pastimes they choose to engage in wisely and practice caution at all times to minimise risks.
Swimming is far from the only physical activity suitable for those with haemophilia and there actually plenty of physical activities in which they can participate and enjoy an active lifestyle.
Whilst taking the Kebler Pass Challenge is most certainly off-limits, cycling in suitable environments is likely to be okay though you must remember to take your clotting medication with you in a cooler bag whenever you go cycling.
If you feel uncomfortable about cycling and need inspiration look no further than British professional cyclist Alex Dowsett who hasn’t been prevented from doing what he loves to do by his condition. “I shouldn’t really be able to do what I’m doing”, he has to say on the subject – but he does and he does it well.
Team sports like basketball, football and hockey are fine provided that you exercise caution and keep your clotting medication with you at all times. Also, it is advisable to take your medication immediately prior to participating in sports as this will reduce the risks involved.
If you’re going to play sports take note of the following:
– Stretch, warm up and cool down each and every time
– Wear the right protective gear (mouth guard, elbow and shin pads, etc.)
– Listen to your body and stop when it tells you you’ve had enough
– If you’re injured seek treatment immediately
As a general rule of thumb, with the exception of weight training the best sports for haemophilia sufferers are individual sports. However, just because individual sports involve less risk that doesn’t mean you have to exercise on your own and you’ll find many opportunities to play sports and engage in exercise with others.
Travelling domestically or abroad
Those with haemophilia were once restricted in their travelling movements as they needed to stay close to treatment centres at all times just in case they injured themselves and needed treatment.
That’s no longer the case because provided that you take an adequate supply of medication, locate treatment centres at your destinations in advance and exercise due caution, the world’s as much your oyster as it is anyone else’s.
Your local treatment centre will be able to provide you with all the advice you need to comfortably travel domestically or abroad, and although you’ll be able to seek treatment practically anywhere you travel to – within reason naturally, the Amazon and Mount Everest aren’t advisable – it’s wise to travel with a friend just in case.
If you’re planning a trip domestically or abroad you’ll need to pack and plan your trip well in advance – the Haemophilia Health website has plenty of insightful articles to assist you – and take note of the following:
– Know how to manage your haemophilia by yourself
– Understand specific requirements for travelling with medication
– Arrange a ‘travel letter’ from your treatment centre
– Arrange health insurance and necessary immunisations
– Pack everything your treatment centre advises you to pack
– Buy a medical alert emblem or ID to notify others in case of emergency
With a thorough understanding of what to arrange, pack and research in advance for your adventures domestically or abroad there’s no reason why you can’t travel and lead an active lifestyle just like everyone else.