Physical activity in persons with late effects of polio

Cecilia Winberg

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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Physical activity is beneficial for the health of persons with disabilities but the levels of such activity are lower than for persons without disability. In addition the level of physical activity decreases with increasing age. For persons aging with a disability it may be a challenge to engage in physical activity, partly because of the disability and partly because of contextual barriers. One group of persons aging with a disability is those with late effects of polio. The latter are recommended being physically active with respect to their impairments and activity limitations but there is very limited knowledge regarding their engagement in physical activity and related factors.
The overall aim of this thesis was to increase knowledge about PA in ambulatory persons with late effects of polio by describing PA, assessing the relationships between PA and impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions and life satisfaction, and furthermore by exploring perceptions of PA. The 81 participants had a confirmed history of acute poliomyelitis affecting the lower limbs, and were between 50 and 80 years of age. In the first study physical activity was analysed by self-report (The Physical Activity and Disability Survey) and by a pedometer. In the second and third study impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions common in this population were assessed. The fourth study was qualitative and 15 participants were individually interviewed regarding their perception of physical activity and the personal and environmental factors related to physical activity. The results showed that the participants were physically active on average three hours per day, mostly in low-level intensity activities and walked on average 6212 steps per day. The amount of PA varied considerably between the participants. There was a positive association between physical activity and life satisfaction. Physical activity was associated with impairments (knee muscle strength and self-reported impairments), activity limitations and participation restrictions (gait performance, self-reported limitations in walking and fear of falling). The variance in physical activity was moderately explained by the assessed impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. Overall the participants had a positive perception of physical activity but multiple factors affected them in their effort to perform PA. The participants described aspects that were closely related to the late effects of polio, such as specific impairments, changes in physical activity over time, past experiences, and contextual barriers. Persons with late effects of polio want to be physically active but may need assistance in order to be able to create suitable strategies for minimizing the impact of their impairments, to prioritize and to change aspects of performance. These results could assist health care professionals in guiding this group to achieve or maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Rehabilitation medicine
  • Lexell, Jan, Supervisor
  • Flansbjer, Ulla-Britt, Supervisor
  • Carlsson, Gunilla, Supervisor
Award date2014 Dec 18
Print ISBNs978-91-7619-076-0
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2014-12-18
Time: 09:00
Place: Hörsal 1, Health Science Center, Baravägen 3, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Hagströmer, Maria
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: Karolinska institutet


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified


  • exercise
  • gait
  • the International Classification of Functioning
  • Disability and Health (ICF)
  • lifestyle
  • muscle strength
  • Post poliomyelitis syndrome
  • qualitative research
  • rehabilitation
  • self-report
  • walking


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