Spring 2019 Project Summaries

I’m An Athlete – Spring, 2019 Projects

I’m An Athlete is sponsoring 5 projects in the spring of 2019. Below is a brief summary of each project:

  • A graduate student from Texas Women’s University is studying the effect of a structured exercise program on muscular strength and quality of life among injured military veterans. According to a recent report from U.S Department of Defense (2013), the number of US troops listed as ‘wound in action’ in Afghanistan was 19,141. These ‘wounds’ include physical and mental impairment, such as amputation, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. As a consequence of the impairment, it significantly decreases physical activity level, increases the risk of developing chronic health problems, reduces muscular strength/endurance, and leads to poor quality of life. This project has three goals: First, the research hopes to provide an exercise program as an opportunity for veterans with physical disabilities to participate in a meaningful social activity. The second goal of the program is to improve personal empowerment by regaining physical and psychological strength to overcome the disabilities. Lastly, with the positive experience with the exercise program, the research hopes to help injured veterans to have successfully re-integration into the community and improve QOL.

  • A project supervised by the Director of Adaptive Athletics at the University of Houston aims to explore perceptions of disability by analyzing implicit reactions to competing against someone with a physical disability. Specifically, to examine if societal perception that persons with disabilities are “less capable” in terms of athletics abilities are present. In short, the project will determine if women have lower expectations of athletes with disabilities compared to those without disabilities. We anticipate these findings will allow for greater understanding of the impact of negative stereotypes against individuals with disability, and will provide new information on the impact of disability on the sporting experience of women with and without disabilities.

  • A graduate student from Wayne State University (Detroit) is presenting her work on physical activity in children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). These individuals experience delays in gross motor function development causing lower levels of physical activity, consequently shown to negatively impact multi-dimensional quality of life (QOL). Her work examined how QOL for children with IDD is impacted by engaging in a sport and PA intervention and is being presented to multiple sport and non-sport audiences to highlight this important need.

  • A second graduate student from Wayne State University is examining the relationship between perfectionism and behaviors (both antisocial and prosocial) in Wheelchair Rugby and Wheelchair Basketball athletes. The significance of this study is that, as a relatively new and burgeoning concept in the sport psychology literature, perfectionism has never been studied in disability sport. Hence, this study will inform the practice of disability sport by helping in areas such as coaching education.

  • Our final 2019 project will be led by a physical therapy student from Emory & Henry College. Her goal is to determine appropriate objective, evidence-based measures of athlete classification for athletes in hopes of making powerchair soccer an organized Paralympic Games event. Paralympic sport has enabled thousands of individuals to participate in athletics who otherwise would not be able to do so but the sports are still limited to those who are either not bound to a wheelchair, or require only a manual wheelchair. Powerchair soccer is the first sport available for individuals who require more than a manual chair to participate. Since the International Paralympic Committee, or IPC, requires that sports who wish to be an organized Paralympic Games event have objective and evidence-based means of athlete classification in order to ensure fairness among athletes, this particular research is imperative. Individuals confined to a power wheelchair are extremely limited in activities that they can actively participate in, which can lead to a decline in mental health and social capabilities. Inclusion in the Paralympic Games, as well as a more refined and fair classification system, will allow for athletes to be properly classified based on their unique abilities.