Volunteers needed to help understand role of physical activity in the health of wheelchair users

Our Department for Health is looking for volunteers to take part in a study to help researchers understand more about the effect of physical activity on the health and wellbeing of manual wheelchair users.

The research is taking place in the newly-formed DisAbility Sport & Health (DASH) research laboratory.

DASH has three main objectives: to assess the role of physical activity in the health and wellbeing of the physically disabled population; to assess the role of exercise in the rehabilitation and long-term health and wellbeing of military amputees; and to develop strategies to enhance sports performance and reduce injury incidence among Paralympic athletes.

The overarching aim of this specific project is to assess the link between physical activity levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease among manual wheelchair users.

Tom Nightingale, a PhD student leading the project, is looking for male and female manual wheelchair users aged between 16 and 65 years.

The volunteers will be asked to spend half a day at the University and take part in some basic tests to assess their level of cardiorespiratory fitness, resting metabolic rate, body composition and upper body strength.

Tom said: "Cardiovascular disease is now the leading cause of mortality in people with spinal cord injuries and occurs earlier in the lifespan in comparison to able-bodied individuals.

"Whilst the role of various forms of regular physical activity in reducing the risk of chronic disease among the able-bodied population is well documented and broadly accepted, the health benefits of regular exercise among manual wheelchair users is less well understood, particularly among people with spinal cord injuries."

Tom hopes that the research will lead to the development of bespoke exercise programmes for manual wheelchair users. He said "By taking part volunteers are making a significant contribution to research designed to improve health and wellbeing of manual wheelchair users."

There is no payment for volunteering but participants will receive detailed feedback regarding their cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition and strength measurements.

Tom and his supervisor, Dr James Bilzon, Head of the Department for Health, are happy to give a short presentation on the study to any groups interested in taking part.

Please email Tom Nightingale or call 01225 384168 for more information.

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