Influence of physical exercise on quality of life in individuals with spinal cord injury

Spinal Cord. 2010 May;48(5):393-9. doi: 10.1038/sc.2009.137. Epub 2009 Oct 20.


Study design: Retrospective cross-sectional study with anonymous postal data collection.

Objective: Regaining the best possible mobility and independence is not only the focus of the rehabilitation process for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), but also represents an important criterion for the individual's quality of life (QoL). Therefore, if and to what extent physical exercise (PE) influences the QoL of individuals with SCI was investigated.

Setting: The period of investigation extended from September 2007 to January 2008. Data were acquired from the BG Trauma Hospital Hamburg database and the German Wheelchair Sport Federation databases.

Methods: Analysis of 277 questionnaires of individuals with acquired SCI between the age of 16 and 65 years with complete wheelchair dependency in everyday life and lesion level lower C5.

Results: In all, 51.5% of all individuals were reported being actively involved in sports as opposed to 48.5% individuals not participating in sports. Individuals actively involved in sports have higher employment rate than physically inactive individuals with SCI. PE was identified as the main influencing determinant of QoL. This was particularly within the physical and psychological dimensions.

Conclusion: In discovering the potential of individuals with SCI for getting involved in PE, the improvement of physical and coordinative skills with interaction between individuals with SCI and external sport groups should be an inherent part of the rehabilitation process. Individuals not having access to PE should be given the opportunity to participate in wheelchair mobility courses. This may improve the adherence to PE of individuals with SCI in post-clinical settings.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance / psychology
  • Athletic Performance / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dependent Ambulation / psychology
  • Dependent Ambulation / statistics & numerical data
  • Employment / psychology
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise Therapy / psychology*
  • Exercise Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Social Support
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Sports / psychology
  • Sports / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wheelchairs / psychology
  • Wheelchairs / statistics & numerical data