Rehabilitation of ADHD children by sport intervention: a Tunisian experience

Tunis Med. 2019 Jul;97(7):874-881.


Introduction: Childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is associated with impairment across multiple domains, including social, familial, emotional and academic functioning. Available therapies, and in particular medical treatment, fail to produce improvement in this impairment. In this context, interest has grown in physical activity and exercise as potential interventions for the treatment of children with ADHD.

Aim: The present study investigates the effect of a recreational swimming program on cognitives functions on Tunisian children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Methods: The study recruited school children aged 9 to 12 years (n total = 40) with diagnosis of ADHD. They were randomly assigned into exercise or control groups. Neuropsychological tasks; the complex figure of Rey (ROCF), the stroop test and the Hayling test were assessed before and after the exercise program.

Results: The results indicates that there were significant improvements in memory accuracy (p=0,000), selective attention (p=0,000), and inhibition process (p=0,000), in experimental group compared with the control group after the intervention. In the post-program, children experienced an overall shortening of task execution times with fewer errors of omissions. They also made fewer errors in interference situations, signaling better cognitive functioning. Conclusion These findings suggest that a recreational swimming program may have positive implications for cognitive function and may provide preliminary support for alternative therapeutic interventions that can be used by researchers, parents, educators, and clinicians and they support that reinforcement approved by recreational program can normalize cognitive deficiencies in children with ADHD.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sports / physiology
  • Stroop Test
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Tunisia