Physical activity in the life of a woman with severe cerebral palsy: Showing competence and being socially connected

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Gaskin, Cadeyrn J, Anderson, Mark and Morris, Tony (2009) Physical activity in the life of a woman with severe cerebral palsy: Showing competence and being socially connected. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 56 (3). pp. 285-299. ISSN 1034-912X


We used a life-history approach to investigate the meanings and experiences of physical activity in the life of a 25-year-old woman with severe cerebral palsy (Amy). Amy and her mother were interviewed about Amy’s life and her involvement in physical activity. The conversation was audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. We interpreted Amy’s story using psychodynamic theory. Although Amy enjoyed learning to walk, she developed a sense of inferiority on entering the school environment because her skills did not compare favourably with those of her classmates without disabilities. Despite these negative experiences, Amy became more physically active as an adult than she had been as a child and as an adolescent, with the intention of delaying further functional decline, to stay socially connected to the people around her and to gain self-esteem through displaying competence at physical tasks. For Amy, engaging in physical activity was intimately tied to psychosocial growth, especially as a young adult. Further research should be conducted to investigate whether this relationship between physical activity and psychosocial growth is present in the lives of other people with disabilities.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/10349120903102312
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > SEO Classification > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Centre for Ageing, Rehabilitation, Exercise & Sport Science (CARES)
Keywords ResPubID18204. cerebral palsy, physical activity, psychodynamic theory, psychosocial development, female, women, social relationships
Citations in Scopus 13 - View on Scopus
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