Wednesday, 14 December 2016

How do children who use wheelchairs view exercise?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

It can be hard to convince children who are not disabled about the benefits of exercise but what about children who use wheelchairs? How well do they understand the benefits of exercise and what part do their parents play in encouraging them? This is the focus of a stduy from the UK by Noyes et al. (2016) titled: 'Conceptualization of physical exercise and keeping fit by child wheelchair users and their parents'  which aimed to: 'gain a better understanding of how children aged 6–18 years who use wheelchairs and their families conceptualized physical exercise and keeping fit.' Twenty four children and 23 parents were interviewed.

The majority of the children claimed that they regularly took part in exercise, mostly three times per week. The children took part because they enjoyed the activities and met friends. Generally, they could see the benefits. The benefts, for example confidence, transferred to other activities. However, children did confuse exercise with therapy. On the other hand, parents were able to distinguish between therapy and exercise.

The authors conclude: 'Proactive and physically active parents can go some way to compensate for the lack of health promotion support and advice and to overcome the considerable barriers, to enable their disabled children to engage in and benefit from physical exercise' and '(m)isconceptions and misunderstandings of children about the differences between and benefits of therapy and physical exercise are likely to hinder their ability to better self-manage their health and weight as they grow up. Professionals (including nurses) need to improve the clarity of their communications to correct children’s misunderstandings about the respective benefits of therapy and physical exercise.'

You can listen to this as a podcast


NOYES J., SPENCER L.H., BRAY N., KUBIS H.- P., HASTINGS R., JACKSON M. & O’BRIEN T. (2016) Journal of Advanced Nursing doi:10.1111/jan.13209

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