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|Issue 154||April 2019|
The report is a product of the VA/HSR&D Evidence Synthesis Program.
Adaptive Sports for Disabled Veterans: Systematic Review
For persons with physical disabilities, organized sports can be traced back to the early 1900s, but opportunities expanded greatly in the post-World War II era when adaptive sports began to be used to rehabilitate Veterans.
The term "adaptive sports" is used to describe a sport that has either been adapted specifically for persons with a disability or created specifically for persons with a disability.
Many of the early adaptive sports programs were in downhill skiing. Since then, the range of available sports and opportunities for participation at all levels — from recreational to competitive — has broadened greatly. Within VA, the vision of VA's Office of National Veteran Sports Programs & Special Events (NVSP&SE) is "to be leaders in the provision of adaptive sports and therapeutic arts programs that complement VA's rehabilitation system of care for Veterans and members of the Armed Forces with disabilities." The national rehabilitation events are intended to "provide opportunities for Veterans to improve their independence, well-being, and quality of life through adaptive sports and therapeutic arts programs."
This systematic review examined the available evidence on the benefits and harms of participation in adaptive sports programs, as well as the barriers to and facilitators of participation. Investigators with VA's Evidence Synthesis Program (ESP) Center in Minneapolis, MN reviewed the literature identified from searches of the MEDLINE®, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, and Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Source databases from 1995 to July 2018. After a full-text review of 450 articles, investigators included 118 articles representing 114 studies; of these, 24 articles provided data on elite athletes (i.e., Paralympians or World Championship participants) and were not included, as findings would be of limited applicability to the Veteran population.
The medical conditions in this review included: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), limb amputation, hearing loss or deafness, multiple sclerosis (MS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), spinal cord disorder, spinal cord injury, stroke/cerebrovascular accident (CVA), traumatic brain injury, or visual impairment or blindness. The adaptive sports in this review included: alpine skiing, archery, billiards, boccia, climbing, curling, cycling, Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT), golf, hand-cycling, kayaking/canoeing, Nordic skiing, para-triathlon, sailing, shooting, sitting volleyball, sled hockey, surfing, swimming, table tennis, tennis, weightlifting-power lifting, and wheelchair basketball, fencing, lacrosse, and rugby.
Summary of Findings
Implications for Current Practice and Policy
The cyberseminar on Adaptive Sports for Veterans: A Systematic Review of the Evidence will be held on May 22, 2019 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm ET. Register for this session.
View the full report — **VA Intranet only**:
Please feel free to forward this information to others!
ESP is currently soliciting review topics from the broader VA community. Nominations will be accepted electronically using the online Topic Submission Form. If your topic is selected for a synthesis, you will be contacted by an ESP Center to refine the questions and determine a timeline for the report.
This Management e-Brief is provided to inform you about recent HSR&D findings that may be of interest. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you have any questions or comments about this Brief, please email CIDER. The Center for Information Dissemination and Education Resources (CIDER) is a VA HSR&D Resource Center charged with disseminating important HSR&D findings and information to policy makers, managers, clinicians, and researchers working to improve the health and care of Veterans.
This report is a product of VA/HSR&D's Evidence Synthesis Program (ESP), which was established to provide timely and accurate synthesis of targeted healthcare topics of particular importance to VA managers and policymakers – and to disseminate these reports throughout VA.
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