Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Dalton Wolfe, Dr. Pamela Houghton


Research Problem: Persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) face many barriers to physical activity (PA) participation. Research has demonstrated that participating in physical activity can have positive benefits for both quality of life (QOL) and reducing the risk of secondary health complications. Physical activity programs offered over the Internet have not been extensively researched, but may provide a solution to assist persons with SCI in overcoming barriers to PA participation.

Methods: This integrated article dissertation focused on the feasibility of persons with SCI participating in a ten week exercise study delivered over the Internet to determine the impact of exercise on their quality of life and satisfaction with physical function, as well as their total number of PA participation minutes. The QOL outcome measures chosen for the study were selected based on a systematic review of QOL measures used in various PA interventions with persons with SCI. One additional aspect of this research was a comparison between a counseling group (online PA classes and four counselling sessions) and an active control group (online PA classes only) to determine differences in PA participation minutes and social cognitive predictors of PA participation.

Results: With respect to participant satisfaction, it was determined that PA classes delivered over the Internet was a feasible delivery method. In each of the six domains of participant satisfaction, the median score was highly satisfied (4/4). The mean score for all participants also increased in each of the seven domains on the Satisfaction with Physical Function Survey from baseline to follow-up. On the Delighted/Terrible scale, 87% of the participants were ‘pleased’ or ‘delighted’ with the physical and psychological changes they perceived from participating in the intervention. In the counseling and control group study, there was a multivariate effect of group in the area of action planning. More specifically, the counseling group was better able to create action plans at all measurement time points compared to the control group. There were no statistically significant differences in total PA participation minutes between the two groups, nor were there differences in QOL over the length of the intervention.

Conclusions: Physical activity programs offered over the Internet may be a feasible and acceptable delivery method for persons with SCI who may face barriers to PA participation. Participating in PA can result in positive perceptions of physical and psychological changes for persons with SCI.