Answered Questions: Monthly News for the Disability Community July 2019

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: I am a person with a disability and would like to be more physically active. What information and resources are available on adaptive sports, exercise, and recreational physical activity? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that look at evidence-based exercise interventions for adults with physical and/or mobility disabilities; factors associated with sustained participation in adaptive sports programs; ideas for supporting healthy and active lifestyles for youth with disabilities; accessibility of fitness facilities; challenges to stay physically active; types of adaptive sports; adaptive sports and recreation; social inclusion and adaptive sports; technology and engineering in wheelchair sports; and assistive technology for adaptive sports. More about Answered Questions.

NIDILRR-Funded Projects:

The Scale-up of an Innovative, Evidence-Based Movement-2-Music (M2M©) Intervention for Adults with Physical/Mobility Disability (in English) project (90DPGE0005) is examining the feasibility, efficacy, and effectiveness of an innovative, evidence-based exercise intervention for people with physical/mobility disabilities. Researchers are examining the effects of the M2M© intervention in adults with physical/mobility disabilities on three functional levels: sitting exercise only, sitting and standing exercise – with or without support while standing, and sitting or standing exercise with emphasis on the right or left side of the body. They are also examining implementation of different delivery methods of the M2M© intervention in two settings: a community-based health and recreation center and a home-based telehealth/tele-exercise platform. The primary outcomes of this project included improved physical and psychosocial health for people with physical/mobility disabilities.

From the NARIC Collection:

The article, Functional and environmental factors are associated with sustained participation in adaptive sports (in English) (J77521), discusses a study that examined the demographic, environmental, disability-related, and functional factors that are associated with sustained participation in a community-based adaptive sports program for people with mobility disabilities. Researchers found that participants who were able to move without using mobility devices such as walkers or wheelchairs had lower odds of sustained participation in community-based adaptive sports programs. Those who used an ambulatory assistive device had twice the odds of sustained participation in such programs than those who used a manual wheelchair. The findings suggest that programs might consider increasing the number of satellite sites and expanding offerings for people with mild or more significant mobility-related disabilities to effectively increase program participation.

Sports Equipment and Engineering:

As technology and engineering continue to evolve, athletes who use wheelchairs for mobility should be aware of their arm health because injury can profoundly affect their daily function and quality of life. The article, Engineering and technology in wheelchair sport (in English) (J81247) from the researchers at the NIDILRR-funded project on Innovation in Disability Empowerment and Service Delivery (in English) (90DPGE0002), provides a review of resources that can help wheelchair users in increasing their physiologic response to exercise, develop ideas for adaptive workout routines, locate facilities and outdoor areas that are accessible for exercise, and develop wheelchair sports-specific skills and shares readily available information about accessible fitness options that may help wheelchair users to increase and maintain their fitness goals.

Research In Focus:


The article, Youth and Parents Share Ideas for Supporting Healthy Lifestyles for Youth with Disabilities, discusses the work of researchers at the NIDILRR-funded Obesity Research Project on Prevalence, Adaptations, and Knowledge Translation in Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities from Diverse Race/Ethnic Backgrounds (in English) (H133A100011). Studies have shown that youth with disabilities are less likely to be physically active and are likely to have higher rates of obesity than youth without disabilities. In this study, researchers found that youth with disabilities and parents identified similar challenges when trying to engage in healthy lifestyles and participate actively in recreational activities including a lack of available, accessible, and affordable options to participate in recreational physical activity and healthy eating. The youth and parents had ideas for strategies to improve access to recreational activities with other youth and access to healthy foods.

The article, Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities May Face Challenges to Stay Physically Active, focuses on the work of the researchers at the NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Living for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (in English), looked at data from 8,636 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) living in 19 states. They found that adults who could exercise independently in the community were more physically active than those who exercised with a caregiver and, according to the researchers; going out into the community to exercise was the only form of community participation lined with being more physically active for adults with IDD. While barriers such as transportation to fitness centers and concerns about road safety could make it difficult for people with IDD to go out for exercise and meet their activity goals, the researchers suggest that walking in the community may be an easy, safe, and inexpensive method for people with IDD who can walk to stay active.

Access to Fitness Facilities:

The article, Many Fitness Facilities May Not Be Fully Accessible to People with Disabilities, discusses a study from the researchers at the NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities (RecTech RERCT) (in English) (90REGE0002) that looked at data on the accessibility and usability of 227 facilities in 10 US states. The researchers found that the accessibility for these facilities has room to improve; accessibility varied by area with spas, telephones, and bathrooms receiving the lowest accessibility scores; and there were some differences in accessibility between the types of facilities. From the study findings, the researchers concluded that many fitness facilities may not be optimally accessible for people with disabilities and they noted that there are additional components, besides the physical environment, that are needed to achieve full accessibility and usability of a fitness facility, such as policies and personal training.


  • There is a wide array of adaptive sports that can be practiced by people with disabilities. Discapnet, a portal for people with disabilities in Spain, provides a list of the most popular adaptive sports, such as basketball, swimming, and soccer; along with some that may not be so well known, such as rugby, judo, and boccia. Each listing describes the sport, what technical aids may be necessary to participate, organizations, videos, and other resources related to that sport.
  • The factsheet, Adaptive sports and recreation (O20548), explains the important role that adaptive sports and recreation can play after a spinal cord injury (SCI) and describes different types of sports equipment and points out some health problems to watch out for during participation in sports-related activities. This factsheet from the NIDILRR-funded Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) (in English) is also available in English.
  • The También Foundation is a non-profit organization in Spain focused on the social inclusion of people with disabilities by promoting adapted sports, leisure and free time activities. People with disabilities practice several sports of their choice in a specific place in the community and participate in 1:1 practices in a particular sport. The Foundation also organizes excursions and smaller trips to the great outdoors for adapted sports.

Assistive Technology:

  • Participation in adaptive sports may require the use of assistive technology (AT). AbleData (in English) publishes info sheets on AT products for everyday life, including sports! The adaptive sport AT info sheets cover such topics as AT for horseback riding (in English), AT for golf (in English), AT for working out (in English), swimming and AT (in English), and how AT can help people with disabilities at play (in English). For those who are ready to get started in their adapted sport of choice, take a look at these AT products related to adaptive sports and recreation (in English) in AbleData’s database or contact AbleData’s information specialists (in English), who speak English and Spanish, to search for more AT products.

Further Research:




About Answered Questions

Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned above is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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