Exploring physical activity maintenance among adults with spinal cord injury


Background: Approximately 12% of adults with spinal cord injury (SCI) meet physical activity (PA) recommendations. There is limited research understanding the factors that enable adults with SCI to maintain their PA participation. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore how and why adults with SCI maintain PA. Methods: Using a multiple case study design, four adults (20-44 yrs.) living with a SCI who maintained PA for one or more years were explored. The adults with SCI participated in two interviews and submitted a reflection log and pictures. The adults who facilitated participants PA were also interviewed. A cross-case analysis was used to analyze the cases to identify the how and why of PA maintenance in this population. Results: The results of this study suggest specific reasons as to why adults with SCI maintain their PA participation including, minimizing health risk, maintaining strength for transfers and wheeling, and the inclusive environment of parasport. Participants reported the strategies they engage in to maintain PA included prioritization, time management, accountability by teammates or peers, and enjoyment. Conclusion: The benefits of PA maintenance for adults with SCI is an important consideration. Participants in this multiple case study maintained PA when they demonstrated a readiness to engage in PA, had access to adapted PA, and recognized improved physical functioning that supported living with an SCI. This presentation will provide an overview of PA maintenance for adults with SCI and the case study results and opportunities for future research will be shared.