The perceived benefits and barriers of sport in spinal cord injured individuals: a qualitative study

Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(24):2061-70. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2012.669020. Epub 2012 Apr 12.


Purpose: This study explores what individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) perceive to be the benefits of becoming involved in organized sport and identifies the barriers to participation.

Method: Seven SCI athletes from a variety of sports were interviewed in a semi-structured format.

Results: 20 benefits and 18 individual barriers were identified and categorized into sub-themes: benefits were categorized into sub-themes of "socialization," "self-worth," "physical challenge" and "emotional." Barriers were grouped into "organization," "medical," "emotional," "a lack of available information" and "views held by others."

Conclusion: A variety of benefits from participating in sport were identified, including socialization, the acquisition of knowledge from others, the development of greater awareness of health and well-being issues, weight maintenance, functional development and independence. Barriers identified included financial constraints, the lack of information regarding medical complications and sporting opportunities, and the need for able-bodied support. The findings have implications for the rehabilitation of individuals with SCI.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Exercise* / physiology
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Perception*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Concept
  • Social Support
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Sports
  • Wheelchairs