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Optimising participation and fitness in people with severe mental and visual disabilities

Health and fitness are interconnected. A person who is fit reduces his or her health risks and experiences a feeling of well-being. Physical fitness is the ability to carry out physical activities and it depends on several factors. Every target group has different components that contribute to physical fitness. Children, for example, need different type of physical fitness than adults.

Relevant factors for physical fitness are for example, body composition (including Body Mass Index and waist circumference), stamina, balance, muscle strength and flexibility.

Measuring fitness

Material about the physical fitness factors for people with severe or very severe mental and visual disabilities have yet to be formulated. First, these components have to be defined. Subsequently, the feasibility and reliability of measuring the measurements has to be determined for this target group. For example, the waist circumference, which is normally measured while standing up, is usually measured lying down in this group.

Quality of care

A research study by Aly Waninge adds an important contribution to the quality of care in people with very severe mental and multiple disabilities, because it provides immediate measuring tools with which fitness can be determined. Caregivers are closely involved in this research and receive specific information about how to adapt clients’ movement and nutrition patterns if necessary.

Scientific publications

Feasibility and reliability of body composition measurements in adults with severe intellectual and sensory disabilities Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 2009 Apr;53(4):377-88. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Measuring waist circumference in disabled adults Research in Developmental Disabilities 2010 May-Jun;31(3):839-47. Epub 2010 Mar 12.

Feasibility and reliability of two different walking tests in persons with severe intellectual and sensory disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities. Accepted July 2010.

Feasibility and Reliability of the modified Berg Balance Scale in Persons with Severe Intellectual and Visual Disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. Accepted Nov, 2010

Test-retest and interrater reliability of MAS and MTS in persons with severe intellectual and visual disabilities. Research in Developmental Disabilities Accepted Nov, 2010

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Visio welcomes anyone with questions about being partially sighted or blind. Visio provides information and advice as well as different services related to research, counselling, rehabilitation, education and living.