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The Implementation of a Fitness Program for Children with Disabilities: A Clinical Case Report

Schreiber, Joe PT, MS, PCS; Marchetti, Greg PhD, PT; Crytzer, Theresa PT, DPT

Case Report

Purpose: The purpose of this report is to describe a community-based fitness program developed and implemented for children with disabilities. Several outcomes are reported for one of the participants, J, an 11-year-old girl with hypotonia and mild mental retardation, to illustrate the strengths and limitations of this program and to help guide clinicians and researchers in developing and critically assessing the effectiveness of similar programs.

Summary of Key Points: The fitness program, called “Off the Couch,” (OTC) was provided in six-week sessions for one hour per week. Outcomes examined included the energy expenditure index (EEI), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), maximum running velocity, and the overall daily activity level of the child and the number of exercise sessions that the child participated in over a two-week time period. J demonstrated a reduction in EEI and a slight improvement in maximum running velocity. Activity level remained at a relatively high level. The program is discussed with respect to feasibility in a clinical setting, suggestions for similar programs and areas for related research. J's outcomes are discussed in terms of their functional relevance.

The authors demonstrate how therapists can use the enablement framework in the current International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to guide clinical reasoning related to enhancing participation in desired activities for children with disabilities. A case report is used as an example.

Department of Physical Therapy, Chatham College (J.S.), Department of Physical Therapy, Duquesne University (G.M.), and Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children (T.C.), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Address correspondence to: Joe Schreiber, Department of Physical Therapy, Chatham College, Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15232. Email:

Grant support: This work was supported by a grant from the Federation of Independent School Alumni, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.