Abstract

Quality of Life after Spinal Cord Injury- qualitative research of elite athlete

The World Health Organization defines the quality of life as individuals’ perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns. It has been found that quality of life is deteriorating as a result of SCI and may be affected by personal (sociodemographic and psychological), cultural (race and ethnicity), economic, and environmental (availability of medical care, quality of education, employment opportunities, and place of residence) factors. People with SCI on average tend to report a decreased feeling of well-being and grade their physical, mental, and social health lower than nondisabled person.

The purpose of this study was to assess the quality of life and methods of coping with the spinal cord injury situation in 3 elite athletes after their sporting careers have ended due to a serious spinal cord injury. Methodology & Theoretical Orientation: The criteria for inclusion in the study required that participants had represented their country in sporting competitions and that they had won the championship title in a sports event at the international level. Three people took part in the study: former world champion in jumping on a BMX bike (Great Britain), former world junior ski jumping champion (Austria) and former European karate champion (Poland). Participation in the study consisted of giving an interview via an Internet communicator and filling an online WHOQoL and personal questionnaires

Analyzing the overall quality of life feeling, P1 perceived his QoL negatively, while the other two were positive. P1 described his general health as very poor, while P2 and P3 were classified as very good and good, respectively. The highest quality of his life in each domain was perceived by P3.

Despite a traumatic accident, the sudden end of a successful sporting career, and a completelychanged life, the respondents in this study positively described their quality of life. Each participant maintains a strong connection to the sporting environment and is socially involved.

The involvement of athletes after SCI in the sporting environment prevents them from losing their sporting identity and makes it easier to find themselves in a new life situation. This may also serve as an example for other people with severe disabilities, encouraging them to engage in social activities


Author(s):

 Agata Goraczko



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