Perspectives on Active Video Gaming as a New Frontier in Accessible Physical Activity for Youth With Physical Disabilities

Academic Article


  • This perspective article explores the utility of active video gaming as a means of reducing sedentary behavior and increasing physical activity among youth with physical disabilities and limitations in lower extremity function who typically are excluded from mainstream exercise options. Youth with physical disabilities are disproportionately affected by health problems that result from sedentary behavior, lack of physical activity, and low fitness levels. Physical, programmatic, and attitudinal barriers have a synergistic and compounded impact on youths' ability to participate in physical activity. A recent health and wellness task force recommendation from the American Physical Therapy Association's Section on Pediatrics supports analyzing individualized health behaviors and preferences that are designed to improve fitness, physical activity, and participation in pediatric rehabilitation. This recommendation represents an opportunity to explore nontraditional options to maximize effectiveness and sustainability of pediatric rehabilitation techniques for youth with disabilities who could best benefit from customized programming. One new frontier in promoting physical activity and addressing common physical activity barriers for youth with physical disabilities is active video games (AVGs), which have received growing attention as a promising strategy for promoting health and fitness in children with and without disabilities. The purpose of this article is to discuss the potential for AVGs as an accessible option to increase physical activity participation for youth with physical disabilities and limitations in lower extremity function. A conceptual model on the use of AVGs to increase physical activity participation for youth with physical disabilities is introduced, and future research potential is discussed, including a development project for game controller adaptations within the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People With Disabilities (RERC RecTech) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)/Lakeshore Foundation Research Collaborative.
  • Published In

  • Physical Therapy  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rowland JL; Malone LA; Fidopiastis CM; Padalabalanarayanan S; Thirumalai M; Rimmer JH
  • Start Page

  • 521
  • End Page

  • 532
  • Volume

  • 96
  • Issue

  • 4