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Critical Reviews™ in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
SJR: 0.117 SNIP: 0.228 CiteScore™: 0.17

ISSN Print: 0896-2960
ISSN Online: 2162-6553

Critical Reviews™ in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevPhysRehabilMed.2019029960
pages 85-92

Exploration of Sports Participation in Children with Mild Intellectual Disability

Priyanka Iyer
Mahatma Gandhi Mission School of Physiotherapy Navi Mumbai, India
Triveni Shetty
Department of Neurophysiotherapy, Mahatma Gandhi Mission School of Physiotherapy, MGM Institute of Health Sciences, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Sailakshmi Ganesan
Head of Therapy, Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Shruti Nair
Mahatma Gandhi Mission School of Physiotherapy, MGM Institute of Health Sciences, Sector No.1, Plot No. 1 & 2, Kamothe, Navi Mumbai–410209, India Navi Mumbai, India
Nagamani Rao
Aashray Special School, Navi Mumbai, India
Rajani Mullerpatan
Department of Physiotherapy, Mahatma Gandhi Mission School of Physiotherapy, MGM Institute of Health Sciences, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India


Children with intellectual disability (ID) present impaired cognitive, social, and adaptive behavior in addition to low levels of physical fitness, limited mental capacity, and poor self-motivation, all of which lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Parallel difficulties in adaptive behavior, such as following strict schedules/routines and social interaction, reflect in poor teamwork and coordination, which are essential for sports. The paucity of literature on barriers to sports participation among children with mild ID in developing countries prompted the present study. After obtaining institutional ethics approval, 101 children with mild ID were recruited from three special schools. Parents, experts in the field of pediatric rehabilitation, and physical education teachers were interviewed to explore sports participation and barriers to it. Eighty-six percent of children participated in sports; 14% did not participate due to low motivation and low fitness levels. Among sport participants, 53% participated for recreation, 22% participated at the interschool level, 16% participated at the district level, and 13% participated at the national level. Parents reported lack of transportation (n = 48/87) and financial constraints (n = 44/87) as major barriers, whereas physical educators and healthcare workers reported overprotection by parents and parents' negative perception of sports as major barriers. Engaging in sports or any physical activity in childhood offers physical benefits such as enhancement of body composition, bone health, and social engagement; fosters interpersonal skills, self-confidence, and self-efficacy; and promotes social engagement. Experts recommend seeking government and non-government funding for developing sports-specific training centers to motivate children and parents to increase sports participation and improve performance.


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