Obstacles and Possibilities for Participation in Sport after Spinal Cord Injury
Research background and hypothesis. Studies have shown that persons after spinal cord injury rarely continue
participating in sport (Stryker, Burke, 2000; Hanson, Nabavi, 2001; Stephan, Brewer, 2007). This could be caused by
the obstacles that the persons face due to the motor disorder after spinal cord injury (Wu, Williams, 2001; Tasiemski
et al., 2004). Hypothesis: persons with spinal cord injury while being involved in disabled sport face the same
problems irrespectively of gender.
Research aim was to determine the obstacles and possibilities for involvement and participation in sport after
spinal cord injury.
Research methods. The questionnaire method was used to collect sport participation data (Tasiemski et al.,
2004) and determine socialization agents of persons after spinal cord injury (Williams, 1994). The athletic identity
assessment scale (Brewer, Cornelius, 2002) was used in the research.
Research results. Data showed that the majority of the subjects after spinal cord injury were not involved in
sport; 11.9% did sports 1 hour per week, 13.2% – 2–3 hours per week, 10.6% – more than 6 hours per week. The
value of athletic identity of paraplegic subjects was equal to 23 points, and that of tetraplegic subjects – 18 points
(statistically significant data difference between the two groups when p < 0.05). It was found that athletic identity
value of men after spinal cord injury (22 points) was statistically significantly higher compared to that of women
(16 points, p < 0.05). Lack of adapted sport facilities – 49.6%, equipment – 53.2%, coaches – 48.4% and financial
resources – 42.0% proved to be the major obstacles to participate in sport for persons after spinal cord injury.
Discussion and conclusions. According to the research, only a minority of persons after spinal cord injury
identified themselves as athletes. It was found that the main social agents involving disabled persons into the
mainstream of sport were other disabled persons, rehabilitation and physical therapists, coaches and other sports
professionals. Persons after spinal cord injury believed that the main reasons of non-participation in sport was
lack of information about disabled sport, also lack of sports equipment, financial problems and lack of sports
professionals. Most persons after spinal cord injury participated or would participate in sport with the aim of getting
fit, strengthening the upper body part, socializing, feeling the joy of life. The majority of results of the study were
similar to the results of other researchers (Tasiemski et al., 2004) who analyzed disabled persons’ problems while
involving in sport.
Keywords: involvement in disabled sport, athletic identity, social agents.
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