Disability discourse, physiotherapy and physical activity in the lives of people with traumatic spinal cord injury


  • Liina Pääbo
  • Kadri Pill




spinal cord injury, qualitative research, disability discourse, physical activity, physiotherapy


The aim of this study was to explore the experiences with disability discourse, physiotherapy and physical activity (PA) of people with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). Eight men with traumatic SCI participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with each participant. The participants emphasized the importance of peer counselling in coping with traumatic SCI but also identified several problems in their everyday lives: limited outside mobility during the winter months, limited accessibility, different disturbing societal attitudes and behaviours towards people using a wheelchair, and limited financial aid for people with disabilities. They had mostly positive experiences with physiotherapy and suggested that physiotherapists should focus on developing their general competencies and using an individual client-centred approach. The participants valued PA but were rather inactive due to function- and health-related, motivational and socio-environmental barriers. The combination of different barriers and facilitators to PA varied for each participant, thereby demonstrating the heterogeneity of their PA experiences. When looking at the described benefits of both physiotherapy and PA, the main forms of creating a strong sense of self-efficacy were represented.


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