RehabWire - Volume 5, Number 6, Summer 2003

With media attention focused on national health and fitness, it's appropriate for this summer issue of RehabWire to feature fitness and health for people with disabilities.

NIDRR Projects: Research in the New Millennium.

Technologies for Children with Orthopedic Disabilities, Los Amigos Research and Education Institute, Inc. (LAREI) (H133E003001) led by Sam Landsberger, ScD and Donald McNeal, PhD. Willaim Peterson, Project Officer.
Abstract: The goal of this RERC is to improve the lives of children with orthopedic disabilities. Activities include: (1) conducting research to advance the state of knowledge; (2) disseminating this information to children and their parents, clinicians, and research investigators; (3) developing and testing prototype devices that are useful and efficacious; (4) transferring prototypes that have proven value to the marketplace; and (5) educating engineering students about the special needs of children with orthopedic disabilities. The research and development program is focused on three of the most important life activities of children: manipulation, mobility, and play and recreation.
Find out more at:

photo of a playground

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Recreational Technologies and Exercise Physiology Benefiting Persons with Disabilities (RERC Rec-Tec), University of Illinois at Chicago (H133E020715) led by James H. Rimmer, PhD. William Peterson, Project Officer.
Abstract: This program researches access to recreational opportunities and physical endurance of people with disabilities, targeting four primary areas: (1) increased access to fitness and recreation environments, (2) interventions to increase physical activity and recreation participation, (3) adherence strategies to reduce physical activity relapse and dropout rates, and (4) randomized clinical trials to evaluate improvements in health and function. Research and development projects include: (1) a comprehensive needs assessment of consumer needs as they pertain to existing and emerging recreational and fitness technologies; (2) the use of information technology and a newly designed environmental accessibility instrument for facilitating access to recreational and fitness environments and promoting improved health and function; (3) "teleexercise" for promoting participation and for monitoring intensity and physiological/psychological outcomes of home-based exercise programs; (4) modification kits for retrofitting cardiovascular exercise equipment and determining the efficacy of the new adaptation in improving fitness, development of virtual exercise environments to promote exercise participation and adherence and to facilitate monitoring of health outcomes; (5) development of technology to allow users adaptive control of exercise machines; and (6) development of an online Rec-Tec solutions database of currently available recreational and fitness technologies allowing the RERC to produce a rpid and sustained impact by using information technology to make available solutions more accessible to consumers. Two training projects promote capacity building for future recreation, fitness, exercise phisiology, engineering, and rehabilitation professionals, and two additional training projects support professional development.
Find out more at:

Project PATH (Promoting Access, Transition, and Health), University of New Hampshire (H133G000150) led by Janet Sable, PhD. Theresa San Agustin, MD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project performs a randomized, controlled trial of Project PATH (Promoting Access, Transition, and Health), a community-based health promotion wellness program for people with new spinal cord injuries (SCIs). This health-promoting involves a variety of interventions including wellness education, an individualized fitness program, recreation skill development with family and friends, community accessibility and advocacy, and peer advising. Working in conjunction with consumers, family, friends, and health and rehabilitation professionals, Project PATH is designed to empower people with new SCIs to make prudent and appropriate use of recreation and leisure resources and in that way, to reduce the incidence and intensity of some the most prevalent and destructive secondary conditions of SCI: e.g., pressure sores, upper respiratory and urinary tract infections, and depression.
Find out more at:

Omnidirectional Wheelchair to Greatly Increase Mobility in Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living Daily Activities, Lincoln Laboratories (ED-01-CO-0310) led by Mel Torrie. Judith Fein, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project develops a prototype omnidirectional wheelchair that is simple, light, inexpensive, and capable of outdoor navigation. Translation and rotation in any direction is accomplished. This retrofit requires only one additional motor and two sensors and effectively overcomes the obstacles others have had in trying to commercialize this needed capability. This work draws from the extensive experience the collaborators have had in VR, and in developing omnidirectional vehicles and control systems.

Did You Know...?
The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability website includes a virtual library, interactive resources, online media, and great articles!

New Research: Selections from REHABDATA

Pensgaard, A.M., Sorensen, M. (2002) Empowerment through the sport context: A model to guide research for individuals with disability. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 19(1), p48-67. Accession Number: J43555.
Abstract: Presents a model of empowerment through sports for individuals with disabilities. Model includes 3 levels of empowerment: individual, group, and societal. Important mediators at the individual level are goals, identity, and self-efficacy; at the group level, they are motivational climate, group identity, and collective efficacy; and at the societal level, the cultural context and political efficacy. Important moderators are age of onset of disability, type of disability, and gender. Methodological considerations and the critiques that have emerged in relation to the empowerment concept are discussed.

Matter, R., Nash, S., Frogley, M. (2002) Interscholastic athletics for student-athletes with disabilities. Palaestra, 18(3), 32-38. Accession Number: J44289.
Abstract: Article describes programs developed in Minnesota, Georgia, and Illinois that provide interscholastic competition for student-athletes with disabilities in public high schools. Information provided on these model programs includes: competition format, rules, teams, eligibility, effects of participation, training for officials, education for coaches, funding, and support.

outline of baseball player swinging a bat

Lieberman, L., Stuart, M. (2002) Self-determined recreational and leisure choices of individuals with deaf-blindness. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 96(10), 724-735. Accession Number: J44484.
Abstract: Study explored the recreational preferences of adults who are deaf-blind and their self-reported barriers to participation in preferred activities. Of the 51 adults surveyed, 50 percent were employed and 60 percent were unsatisfied with their current recreational activities, which did not match their preferences. The barriers to participation identified were the lack of transportation, others to participate with, programming, and time.

Modell, S.J., Valdez, L.A. (2002) Beyond bowling: Transition planning for students with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 34(6), 46-52. Accession Number: J44536.
Abstract: Proposes a variety of alternatives to bowling that allow students with disabilities to participate in community activities based on skills and experiences developed in their school years. Case studies illustrate four areas that should be considered to enhance students' transition from school to community life by increasing the opportunity to actively pursue physical activity, recreation, and leisure. These areas include school and community-based activities, functional programming, advances in technology, and advocacy.

Schleien, S., Green, F., Stone, C. (2002)Making friends within inclusive community recreation programs. TASH Connections, 28(7/8), 16-23. Accession Number: J44554.
Abstract: Paper discusses the impact of the social inclusion of individuals with disabilities in community recreation on the the development of friendships with non-disabled peers. Authors define social inclusion and friendship and discuss the importance of friendship in relation to inclusion and quality of life. Authors also identify barriers to frienship and present strategies for promoting friendships among people with and without disabilities as they participate in inclusive community recreation programs.

photo of wheelchair racing from

Emes, C., Longmuir, P., Downs, P. (2002) An abilities-based approach to service delivery and professional preparation in adapted physical activity. Adapted Physical Activitiy Quarterly, 19(4), 403-419. Accession Number: J44609.
Abstract: Article describes an abilities-based approach to service delivery in adapted physical activity, based on person-centeredness, openness,and compatability. The primary focus is on the person, rather than the disability, the activity, or the environment. Discusses how this approach influences the preparation of future professionals of adaptive activity. Includes an example of an abilities-based program.

Morrison, R.S., Sainato, D.M., Benchaaban, D., Endo, S. (2002) Increasing play skillsof children with autism using activity schedules and correspondence training. Journal of Early Intervention, 25(1), 58072. Accession Number: J44722.
Abstract: Study examines the effectiveness of correspondence training and activity schedules on the on-task and play correspondence behavior of four preschool children with autism. Partial-interval recording wasused to measure on-task and play correspondence behavior and experimenter prompts, whereas a frequency count was used for on-schedule behavior. Results showed that all four participants' on-task and play correspondence behavior increased, while experimenter prompts gradually decreased.

Leme, S.A. (2002) Supersports. Palaestra, 18(4), 28-31, 43. Accession Number: J44737.
Abstract: The SUPERsports (Secondary Unified Physical Education and Recreation) project allows transition-age student to choose, take the lead, and be responsible for their own learning and recreational activities. Components of the program, staff development and training, and guidelines for implementation are provided.

Brodeur, S., Block, M. (2002) Tips for first-year itinerant adapted physical educators. Palaestra, 18(4), 32-37, 43. Accession Number: J44738.
Abstract: Provides suggestions for the first-year adapted physical education teacher. Includes tips on fitting in, dress, communication, contacts, professionalism, schedules, procedures, students, planning and organization, safety/precautions, the individualized education program (IEP), equipment, and community resources.