On March 3, occupational therapy students Rebecca Anderson, Reagan Bergstresser-Simpson and Kristi Jarrett presented their thesis poster at the 27th International Seating Symposium held at the Opryland Hotel. The title of the presentation was “Examining the Quality of Life of Children with Physical Disabilities Who Participate in a Community-Based Recreation Program: A Mixed Method Design.”
The study examined the relationship between participation in organized, community-based recreation and perceived quality of life for children with physical disabilities. A mixed-method, cross-sectional design was used with thirteen participants recruited from ABLE Youth in Tennessee. All participants used a wheelchair as their primary mode of mobility. Quantitative data was collected using the Pediatric Quality of Life Instrument (PedsQL™), which measures perceived quality of life, and the qualitative data used a phenomenological approach with individual interviews. The results of the PedsQL™ suggested that the majority of the participants had a moderately high quality of life. The investigators identified six major themes in the qualitative information that described the children’s perspectives on what contributed to their quality of life and how their participation in recreational activities contributed to this life satisfaction. These themes included: health benefits of physical activity, opportunity for socialization, having a choice, identity as a wheelchair user, having a positive attitude and empowerment by abilities & future goals. The researchers believe participation in ABLE Youth contributed to a positive perception of quality of life for the participants.