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Leisure Activities, Modifying the Environment and Children with Disabilities

It can be a challenge at times to encourage children with physical disabilities to participate in leisure activities.  The Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy published a small study to determine the effectiveness of environment-based interventions on participation of  6 adolescents with physical disabilities.  A 12-week intervention occurred with a focus on removing environmental barriers and coaching parents.   The Canadian Occupational
Performance Measure was used to establish performance on 17 goals that were set.  Occupational therapists delivered the intervention which included the following: (a) Review baseline participation goals; (b)  evaluate environment-based barriers/ facilitators to participation, including the setting in which these activities take place; (c) work together with the adolescent and parents to explore and implement strategies to modify environmental barriers and/or activity demands and (d) provide knowledge about useful strategies to search for information and advocate for the child’s inclusion.

Some strategies that were used included: adapted bicycles, educating instructors, pre-teaching, assisting with acquiring transportation and more.

The results indicated:

  1.  clinically significant improvement in performance scores was observed across all 17 goals.
  2.  statistically significant treatment effect was replicated in 13 goals (76%).

The researchers concluded that environment-based interventions are effective in promoting youth participation, but larger studies are required.

Reference:  Dana R. Anaby, Mary C. Law, Annette Majnemer, and Debbie Feldman
Opening doors to participation of youth with physical disabilities: An intervention study: Favoriser la participation des adolescents ayant des handicaps physiques : Étude d’intervention
Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy April 2016 83: 83-90, first published on October 21, 2015 doi:10.1177/0008417415608653

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