QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS CONCERNING DIFFERENT KIND OF ADAPTED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PROGRAMS FOR DIFFERENT GROUPS OF HANDICAPPED PERSONS

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS CONCERNING DIFFERENT KIND OF ADAPTED PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PROGRAMS FOR DIFFERENT GROUPS OF HANDICAPPED PERSONS

Herman Van Coppenolle, Yves Vanlandewijck,
Peter Van de Vliet, & Johan Simons
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences,
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

In 1989 the European Association for Adapted Physical Activity was founded and this group of enthousiastic persons from different European universities started to collaborate very intensively around this very important topic : how to improve the situation of persons with a handicap by Adapted Physical Activity?

The first question we tackled was:

how can we improve the training of university students in this field ?

Therefore we started up the European Master’s Degree in Adapted Physical Activity in 1991 as an interuniverity cooperation program (28 universities) which runs already for 9 years now in Leuven, my university in Belgium , and in which already 150 students enrolled. But I talked already last year about this topic and will now concentrate on some general questions and answers. It is obvious that many of theses answers were provided by research data gathered through the master’s theses of this European Master’s Degree in Adapted Physical Activity, as well as through our longlife activity in this field.

Answers on questions

When should I start the “approach” for motivating persons with a handicap to participate?

The answer is “as soon as possible in the revalidation process”.

Which kind of information should be provided ? Why should I participate in sports activities? Where can I find the information about the sportsopportunities for several persons with a handicap ? In which sportactivity can I participate and where?

Therefore we developed an information brochure for Flanders (the Flemish part of Belgium) providing all this information by attractive photographs about Omnisports (badminton, billiard, bowling, fitness, dance, darts, golf, hockey, ice-skating, outdoor activities, horse riding, gymnastics, fishing, folksports, self-defence), watersports (kayak, surfing, water-ski, sailing), Paralympic Disciplines (Summergames) (athletics, basketball, boccia, shooting (arrows), weightlifting), Paralympic Disciplines (Wintergames) (skiing, cross- country sit-skiing, goalball, judo, fencing, shooting, tabletennis, wheelchairtennis, soccer, volleyball, cycling, swimming).

The motivation can also be enhanced by films for example by “I am not Disabled” (Film produced by Yves Vanlandewijck and Ives Jossa, K.U.Leuven) (Peace Medal Award of the United Nations) in which 4 persons with a handicap explain how sportsparticipation improved dramatically the quality of their lives.

How should I run an adapted physical activity program once the person is motivated to participate?

First we need a global diagnosis of the physical and psychological possibilities and objectives. This means a careful examination of :

1. the physical capacities

2. the specific technical capacities

3. the psychological and social aspects for doing sports.

Also is needed counselling and coaching for competitive or recreative physical activities in order to avoid drop out and to assure a continuous success experience because participation in sports must always provide joy and a feeling of self-fulfilment and selfrealisation.

For which groups of persons with a disability adapted physical activity programs can be beneficial?

For each person with a specific disability there are scientifically proven physical and psychosocial benefits. For persons with an intellectual disability I refer to the doctoral thesis of Jurate Mikelkйviciutй of Lithuania who develops a new observation method for determining the main objectives of an individualised adapted physical activity program of which the objective is the improvement of the quality of life for this specific person. With this new method we will be able to evaluate the results of a systematic program on these specific objectives. For autistic children there are specific strategies for the several types of autism: the classic autism, the Aperger’s syndrome and the Rett syndrome. Also for children with specific learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorders, language and writing problems, inability to receive information, problems in processing information and deficits in physical and motor abilities, there exist specific programs. The same for persons with emotional and psychiatric disturbances.

There is a specialisation program of psychomotor therapy specialisation in Leuven (Belgium) for depressed patients, for anorexia nervosa patients and for schizophrenic persons. There are as well specific psychomotor diagnostic tools and programs for persons with neurological and orthopedical disabling conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries (wheelchairsports) and amputations.

The same approach exists for persons wit hearing impairments, for persons with visual impairments, for persons with physiological impairments such as respiratory problems (asthma, cystic fibrosis), internal problems (diabetes), cardiac problems (myocardinfarctus, hearttransplant), obesity, cancer and aids.

Which should be the training of the students in physical education or physiotherapy in order to become specialists in this field?

There is firstly the European Master’s Degree in Leuven which is a European training program with 27 universities.in which also your students can participate. But we should develop other trainingprograms also on a lower level in order to have as many as possible experts in this field. You will be involved in an European Network “Education and Social integration of Persons with a Handicap through Adapted Physical Activity”, which will realise the co-ordination between the training programs in the universities, the ministries of education and health and the sportfederations for persons with a handicap in 35 European countries (with inclusion of Russia).

How to be informed about what is going on in the world of Adapted Physical Activity?

You know through Prof. Dimitriev and Dr. Ozolina , the European leaders and you (through these same colleagues ) participated on world conferences in Oslo (four years ago) and Barcelona (three month’s ago). So you know as well the world leaders in APA. You are member of the International Federation of Adapted Physical Activity and you receive the International Journal APAQ.

In conclusion

Through this intensive co-operation in the international open world , you know better than before about all the positive aspects of APA. You are able to set up the best training programs for your students. You are linked with Europe and the World. You will be the APA leaders in Russia. but you should be better supported by your ministries and in better co-operation with the sports federations for persons with a handicap. I can conclude with the theme of this conference “ Adapted Physical Activity and the Opened world”. Being involved in these international activities and organisations you solved already the problems of information, training scientific background and international inclusion and in this way you have the best possible perspectives to succeed in order to improve the quality of the Russian persons with a disability.


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Questions and answers concerning different kind of adapted physical activity programs for different groups of handicapped persons / Herman Van Coppenolle [и др.] // Открытый мир : Науч.-практ. семинар по адапт. двигат. активности. - М., б. г. - С. 5-9.