Original Research

Developing and implementing a model of care for athletes living with disabilities: A protocol

Siyabonga H. Kunene
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 79, No 1 | a1868 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v79i1.1868 | © 2023 Siyabonga H. Kunene | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 December 2022 | Published: 19 July 2023

About the author(s)

Siyabonga H. Kunene, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and, Wits Sports and Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Athletes living with disabilities (ALWDs) face various challenges including stigma, discrimination, poor access to quality services and lack of funding. Their needs are also numerous. Despite the transformative promise of ‘Leave No One Behind’ of the United Nations’ 2030 agenda, people living with disabilities are still left behind.

Objectives: To investigate the challenges and needs of ALWDs and to develop and implement a model of care (MoC), using South Africa as an example.

Method: Our study will use a mixed-method design. The conceptual framework to manage this project is guided by a ‘process redesign framework’. Phase 1 will analyse the problems and needs of ALWDs. Phase 2 will include a review study to map the range of care strategies for athletes. Phase 3 will include a Delphi study to develop a suitable MoC. Phase 4 will involve the implementation of the MoC. Participants for phase 1 will include ALWDs. Phases 3 and 4 will include disability sports experts.

Results: Our study will present the challenges and needs of ALWDs and propose a MoC.

Conclusion: There is a need to think beyond disability and have robust discussions to challenge the way services are provided for ALWDs. Everyone has a role to play to help bring about changes that will improve the quality of life of these athletes.

Clinical implications: A new MoC will assist in improving the quality of service for ALWDs.


model of care; healthcare services; rehabilitation; para-sports; South Africa


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