"It's fun, but …" Children with cerebral palsy and their experiences of participation in physical activities

Disabil Rehabil. 2015;37(4):283-9. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.915348. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


Purpose: To explore the experiences of children with cerebral palsy (CP) regarding participation in physical activities, and to describe facilitators and barriers.

Methods: Sixteen children with CP 8-11 years old who varied in gross motor, cognitive and communicative function participated in either an individual interview or a focus group.

Results: Two categories and 10 sub-categories emerged from the content analysis. The category "Being physically active, because …" describes facilitators for being physically active divided into the sub-categories "Enjoying the feeling", "Being capable", "Feeling of togetherness", "Being aware it is good for me", and "Using available opportunities". The second category "Being physically active, but …" describes barriers to being physically active, divided into the sub-categories "Getting tired and experiencing pain", "Something being wrong with my body", "Being dependent on others", "Not being good enough" and "Missing available opportunities".

Conclusions: Asking children with CP about the physical activities they enjoy, and giving them the opportunity of trying self-selected activities with the right support is important for facilitating an increased participation in physical activities. Having fun with family and friends when being physically active, and enjoying the sensation of speed should be taken into consideration when designing interventions. When supporting children to become and remain physically active, attention should be paid to pain, fatigue and the accessibility of activities and locations. Implications for Rehabilitation Children want to be physically active together with friends or others. Children want to have fun and enjoy the sensation of speed when being physically active. Self-selected physical activities and the opportunity of trying new activities with the right support is essential for facilitating an increased participation in physical activities. Service planning and design may be facilitated by asking children about the physical activities they enjoy.

Keywords: Cerebral palsy; children; experiences; participation; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Disabled Children / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*