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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2015 Feb;57(2):137-48. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12624. Epub 2014 Nov 18.

Factors associated with physical activity in children and adolescents with a physical disability: a systematic review.

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Research Group Lifestyle and Health, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands; Child Development and Exercise Center, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.



The aim of this review was to summarize the important factors associated with participation in physical activity in children and adolescents with physical disabilities.


A systematic mixed-studies review was conducted using the databases Academic Search Elite, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, PEDro, PsycINFO, PubMed, and SPORTDiscus, searching for studies conducted from January 2000 to May 2013. The studies were identified by two independent researchers following predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria. The methodological quality was determined using the McMaster University critical review forms for qualitative or quantitative research and was numerically rated according to the criteria developed by Imms.


The initial electronic search yielded 10 161 articles, of which six were qualitative and 12 were quantitative studies. These studies showed that a diverse range of positive and negative factors were associated with participation in physical activity, such as self-efficacy, physical fitness, increasing age, and the availability of equipment and local facilities.


Future intervention studies could use these results, within the context of an individual child and his or her environment, as the basis for increasing physical activity levels, starting in early childhood and continuing throughout adolescence and into adulthood. An increased awareness of and focus on providing appropriate equipment and adapted sports in the child's own environment by policy makers might increase physical activity levels.

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