Original Research

The relationship between physical fitness and community participation in people with spinal cord injury

Linda van der Westhuizen, Diphale J. Mothabeng, Tshifhiwa M. Nkwenika
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 73, No 1 | a354 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v73i1.354 | © 2017 Linda van der Westhuizen, Diphale J. Mothabeng, Tshifhiwa M. Nkwenika | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 August 2016 | Published: 26 October 2017

About the author(s)

Linda van der Westhuizen, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Diphale J. Mothabeng, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Tshifhiwa M. Nkwenika, South African Medical Research Council, South Africa, South Africa

Abstract

Background: People with spinal cord injury (PWSCI) who use wheelchairs for mobility tend to be physically inactive because of their limited mobility. Poor endurance and exercise tolerance, associated with poor physical fitness, can make it challenging to meet the physical demands of activities such as manoeuvring a wheelchair over gravel roads. This may lead to poor community participation in activities PWSCI were involved in pre-morbidly. To date, no studies have been conducted in South Africa on what the relationship is between physical fitness and community participation in PWSCI.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to establish the relationship between physical fitness and community participation in PWSCI.
Methodology: An exploratory cross-sectional survey was conducted on PWSCI living in the Greater Tshwane Metropolitan City. Physical fitness was measured using the 6 minute push test (6MPT) and the Borg scale. Community participation was measured using the Reintegration to Normal Living Index (RNLI). The data were analysed using the Spearman’s Rank correlation at a 5% level of significance.
Results: Moderate to poor associations were found between the 6MPT and the Borg scale with the RNLI (r = 0.637; p < 0.001 and r = −0.325; p = 0.013, respectively). These results indicate that the participants who were able to push further in 6 min and had better endurance were more satisfied with their perceived community participation.
Conclusion: This study shows that there is a relationship between physical fitness and community participation in PWSCI. Information gained from this study lays the foundation for more studies in this area, and for possible improvement in rehabilitation practice.

Keywords

spinal cord injury; people with spinal cord injury; physical activity; cardiovascular fitness; participation; community participation; quality of life

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Crossref Citations

1. Interventional Programs for Community Reintegration after Spinal Cord Injury: A Scoping Review
Surajo Kamilu Sulaiman, Bashir Kaka, Bashir Bello, Ashiru Hamza  Mohammed, Dauda Salihu, Umar Muhammad Bello, Muhammad Chutiyami, Francis Fatoye
Critical Reviews in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine  vol: 35  issue: 3  first page: 19  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1615/CritRevPhysRehabilMed.v35.i3.20