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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2006 May;48(5):337-42.

Patterns of participation in recreational and leisure activities among children with complex physical disabilities.

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CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Children with physical disabilities are at increased risk of limitations to participation in everyday activities. This study describes research examining the participation of children in day-to-day formal and informal activities (excluding mandated academic schooling). Using the Children's Assessment of Participation and Enjoyment (CAPE) measure, data on participation patterns were collected from 427 children (229 males, 198 females; mean age 10 y [SD 2 y 4 mo]; range 6-14 y) with physical limitations and from their families. The primary types of physical disability in the sample included cerebral palsy, spina bifida, acquired brain injury, and musculoskeletal limitations. Findings indicate a broad range of diversity and intensity of participation, with proportionately greater involvement in informal rather than formal activities. Significant differences in participation and enjoyment were found between males and females, and for children more than 12 years of age. Children's participation was less diverse in families reporting lower income, single-parent status, and lower respondent parent education. These findings provide a foundation for an improved understanding of the participation of children with physical disabilities, which can assist families and service providers in planning activities that fit with their child's preferences and ensure active participation.

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