Athlete Development & Sports Rehabilitation
Complementary Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine
Health Services Research
Pamela Roberts, PhD, OTR/L, SCFES, FAOTA, CPHQ, FNAP, FACRM
Executive Director and Professor
Valley Village, California
Mark A. Hirsch, PhD, FACRM
Senior Scientist; Director Parkinson Disease and Movement Disorders Lab
Carolinas Rehabilitation/Carolinas Medical Center
Charlotte, North Carolina
Persons using a wheelchair for everyday mobility often experience poorer health outcomes, are at greater risk for chronic diseases, and have a higher likelihood of being obese than persons without disability. Regular physical activity is widely recognized as having health benefits. However, wheelchair users remain one of the least physically active populations in the United States, and those who are active often are not experiencing the health-related benefits.
For decades, researchers have been working diligently to provide an evidence base for physical activity specific to persons using a wheelchair. Through this work, much has been learned, including barriers to participating in physical activity, mechanisms to better describe metabolic and physiologic implications of physical activity, and possible impacts of physical activity on psychosocial outcomes. However, to date, in many areas our research is not conclusive, and wheelchair users still are not actively engaged in regular physical activity.
I have experienced the barriers to accessing and participating in physical activity as a person with disability, a practicing occupational therapist, and a rehabilitation researcher. In my presentation, I will present my experiences from these three different perspectives. I’ll touch on the challenges of becoming engaged in physical activity, experiencing health-related benefits once engaged, conducting research to create an evidence base, and obstacles to implementing evidence-based interventions and approaches. Further, I will discuss ideas of where our research needs to go and what it could look like when we are successful.