Abstract

Objectives. Research has described benefits of physical, athletic, and avocational activity on improving self-esteem, quality of life, and locus of control in persons with disabilities. The objective of this study was to identify meaningful components of the experience of sea kayaking as described by persons with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Method. Three subjects with SCI who had participated in recreational kayaking were interviewed. Qualitative research methods included strategies from Guba’s model for rigor in qualitative research, Spradley’s interviewing guidelines, and Good’s method of semantic network analysis. Three interviews of approximately 45 min in length were conducted with each subject. Initial interviews began with a single question: “Tell me about sea kayaking.” Subsequent questions contained only concepts and terms used in the subjects’ responses.

Results. The subjects valued the novelty, challenge, safety, sociability, and natural environment aspects of sea kayaking. Perceptions of the self as able in the eyes of others and the need for support in pursuit of outdoor leisure activities were themes that figured prominently in the subjects’ discourse.

Conclusion. Subjects’ comments indicate that meaningful time use and the construction of an identity after injury are linked. This link has also been suggested in the rehabilitation literature. This information suggests the use of therapeutic intervention that supports a person’s adjustment to an irreversible SCI.

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