November 27, 2019

A New ISPRM Task Force Answers the Call for Global Balance in Preventive Physical Medicine Research and Innovation

The convening of a new task force within ISPRM, the Task Force on Physical Activity for Persons with Disabilities (PAPD), highlights the organization’s commitment to innovation, diversity, equity, and inclusion in Physical Medicine. On this important anniversary, PAPD congratulates ISPRM for its forward-thinking approach to preventive medicine through physical movement, while at the same time, discussing our team goals and intended contributions to ISPRM.

Physical activity is a critical health strategy for persons with and without impairment, but the subset of the population with impairment remains at high risk of sedentariness and physical inactivity, especially in low- and under-resourced settings. After observing a high level of interest in a general session at ISPRM 2018, When Sports Save Lives: Physical Activity for Persons with Disabilities in Low-Resource Settings, ISPRM President, Prof. Walter Frontera suggested the formation of a Task Force on Physical Activity for Persons with Disabilities within ISPRM. Approval by the Board of Governors was not delayed in the least, and among the group’s 10 current members are experts in neurorehabilitation, neurodevelopmental disorders, exercise physiology, exercise science, age-related frailty, chronic disease in the context of aging with a disability, displaced peoples/refugees, health and wellness benefits of physical activity, and Paralympic sport. The PAPD membership shares a deep respect for and belief in the power of physical movement at all points along the human functional spectrum, to inject joy, improve health and foster holistic wellness (physical, cognitive, social and emotional) in the lives of those who move, regardless of impairment. “Physical activity is a panacea of good health; nothing is better to get the endorphins going than a good walk, run or swim,” says PAPD member Dr. Uma Pandiyan. “Physical activity is a silver bullet,” remarks PAPD member Dr. Mark Peterson.

Representing Morocco, Mexico, Canada, USA, India, China/Uganda, South Korea, Qatar, and Ghana, this diverse team of Physiatrists and scientists aims to increase the evidence base regarding physical activity for global persons living with congenital and/or acquired physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities using a patient-centered approach, and to share knowledge both ‘upwards’ e.g., to ISPRM leadership, laterally, to ISPRM members, and ‘downwards,’ to our own communities who may be looking for guidance. Work products currently in development include a systematic literature review examining global stakeholder perspectives on facilitators and barriers to physical activity among individuals with disabilities; a community survey designed to both characterize global facilitators/barriers to sedentariness and physical exercise in individuals with disabilities and to better understand the impact of physical activity on overall health and wellness. At ISPRM/AAP 2020 in Orlando, FL, a number of individual papers and projects will be presented, and as a group, PAPD looks forward to hosting a 4-hour pre-conference workshop, Supporting lifelong physical activity participation among individuals with disabilities: Perspectives from the ISPRM Task Force on Physical Activity for Persons with Disabilities (PAPD), and a 60-minute conference symposium, #WhyWeMove, Contemporary Correlates of Physical Activity in People with Disabilities in the Digital Age. We also plan a few fun surprises to promote healthy living throughout the meeting.

Innovative features of the PAPD initiative include the a priori inclusion of traditionally underrepresented minority groups and/or underserved geographic world regions (including displaced people, a sub-population that often sits at the intersection of internal displacement, disability, mobility and physical activity for all domains of health and wellness). Additional features include the potential for knowledge transfer from the global south to the global north and in other unconventional directions, the potential for global relevance and reach, a view to examine the intersection of non-communicable chronic disease and disability, explicit advocacy for general musculoskeletal movement, ground-level functionality and general participation in physical activity, including the reduction of sedentary behaviors among Physiatrists and other musculoskeletal clinicians, and an acknowledgement of community members as central stakeholders of the work. Beyond the context in which PAPD team members live and work, PAPD work products will have broad applicability and a high degree of relevance to many other groups, providing and uncovering insights from important global settings. In this sense, the work aspires towards global balance, and aims to inform the development of a more globally relevant physical activity and health promotion strategies.

A brief word about ISPRM leadership: while it’s true that a spotlight is increasingly being shone on the modes, frequency, contexts, drivers, impediments, effects, risks and benefits of physical activity in persons with impairment, it’s also true that perspectives are still very much needed. Sociocontextual factors change the way physical activity is understood and experienced throughout the life-course, and within leisure-time, occupation, transport, and household domains — one size does not fit all. The energy required to raise awareness, spark dialogue and consolidate expertise is not trivial, so hats off and ‘congratulations’ to the highly collaborative, outside-of-the-box thinking that has given rise to this team. As with anything new, creativity, agility, and open-mindedness are key, and ISPRM leadership has demonstrated this.

PAPD looks forward to celebrating another milestone anniversary with ISPRM in due course, and wishes all members all the best for healthy living in 2020 and beyond!

Authors:

Physical Activity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force

Yetsa A. Tuakli-Wosornu – Chair

Hajjioui Abderrazak

Deorishi Tripathi

Bo Young Hong

Joseph Balikuddembe

Mark Peterson

Paulina Munoz

Uma Pandiyan

Rory Cooper

Andrei Krassikov