Content » Vol 52, Issue 10

Original report

Determinants of physical activity in young wheelchair-user with spina bifida

Manon A. T. Bloemen, Tim Takken, Janke F. de Groot, Cas L.J.J Kruitwagen, Rosanne A. Rook, Rita H.J.G. van den Berg-Emons, Frank J.G. Backx
Research Group Lifestyle and Health, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Bolognalaan 101, NL-3584 CJ Utrecht, The Netherlands. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2724


Objective: To explore associations between physical activity and peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), age, sex, and Hoffer classification in young wheelchair-users with spina bifida.
Design: Exploratory study.
Subjects: Fifty-three dutch children (age 5–19 years) with spina bifida who use a manual wheelchair.
Methods: For the dependent variable physical activity, data from 2 physical activity monitors were analysed: VitaMove data for 34 participants and Actiheart data for 36 participants. Time sedentary, time physically active, and time in moderate to vigorous physical activity were analysed. The Wheelchair Shuttle Test was used to measure VO2peak. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses were performed. Independent variables were VO2peak, age, sex, and Hoffer classification.
Results: Time sedentary and time physically active during a school day were influenced by age (β=0. 326/β=–0. 320) and Hoffer classification (β=0. 409/β=–0. 534) and during a weekend day by Hoffer classification (β=0. 617/β=–0. 428). Time in moderate to vigorous physical activity was influenced by Hoffer classification (β=–0. 527) during a school day and by age (β=–0. 600) during a weekend day.
Conclusion: Older age and the inability to walk negatively influence physical activity. Sex and VO2peak were not associated with physical activity. These results imply that increasing cardiorespiratory fitness alone will not improve physical activity in young wheelchair-users with spina bifida.

Lay Abstract

Children with spina bifida who are wheelchair-users are less physically active than their typically developing peers. It is important to understand relations between physical activity and other factors, so approriate interventions can be developed. We explored relations between physical activity and fitness, age, sex and severity of disability in children that were 5–19 years of age who were diagnosed with spina bifida and who are wheelchair-users. We found that older age and the inability to walk negatively influence physical activity. We did not find a relation between physical activity and fitness or physical activity and sex.


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