Content » Vol 40, Issue 9

Original report

Sports participation in adolescents and young adults with myelomeningocele and its role in total physical activity behaviour and fitness

Laurien M. Buffart, Hidde P. van der Ploeg, Adrian E. Bauman, Floris W. Van Asbeck, Henk J. Stam, Marij E. Roebroeck, Rita van den Berg-Emons

DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0239


Objective: To assess sports participation in young adults with myelomeningocele and its association with personal, disease-related and psychosocial factors, physical activity and fitness.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Subjects: Fifty-one persons (26 males) with myelomeningocele , mean age 21.1 (standard deviation 4.5) years.
Methods: We assessed self-reported sports participation, ambulatory status, presence of hydrocephalus, functional independence, social support, perceived competence, exercise enjoyment, objective and self-reported physical activity, peak oxygen uptake, muscle strength and body fat. Associations were studied using regression analyses.
Results: Thirty-five subjects (69%) participated in sports. Sports participation was not associated with disease-related characteristics, but was associated with social support from family, perceived athletic competence and physical appearance (p ≤ 0.05), and tended to be associated with global self-worth (p = 0.10). Sports participants had higher self-reported physical activity levels than non-participants (p ≤ 0.05); objective results did not support this. Furthermore, sports participants tended to be less likely to have subnormal muscle strength (odds ratio = 0.26; p = 0.08) and their peak oxygen uptake was 0.19 l/min higher, but not statistically significantly (p = 0.13).
Conclusion: Sports participation seems to be due to personal preferences rather than physical ability; it could benefit from improving social support and perceived competence, and is associated with higher self-reported physical activity.

Lay Abstract


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