Date Presented 04/22/2023

People with disabilities who participate in adaptive sports have an increased quality of life, but pain can be a barrier. Results show that adaptive athletes of all ages have no more or less pain interference, thus supporting community participation via sport.

Primary Author and Speaker: Kate M. Buchanan

Additional Authors and Speakers: Erika Kemp, Jewel Elias Crasta

Contributing Authors: Theresa Berner, Jonathan Napolitano, Kristen Jackson, Jessica Hoehn

Participation in adaptive sports has been shown to increase quality of life for those living with disabilities (Diaz et al., 2019). Pain is often listed as a barrier to participation, however not much is known about whether their pain interferes with participation in daily activities. This study aims to explore pain interference of adaptive athletes. This was a cross-sectional design with a convenience sample of adaptive athletes with physical disabilities over the age of eight who had been participating in adaptive sports for at least two months. Approval from the sponsoring institution’s IRB and waiver of consent documentation was received. PROMIS Pain Interference self-report measures were administered to athletes either during or after a practice or game (Amtmann et al., 2010; Varni et al., 2010). The HealthMeasures website was used to calculate participants’ raw scores and converted those to t-scores. Statistical analyses were completed using SSPS software. A total of 53 athletes, 38 male and 15 female, participated in the study and had one of four primary impairments: spina bifida/other spinal cord injury (n = 32), cerebral palsy/other brain injury (n = 13), limb difference/other orthopedic condition (n = 4) and visual/other sensory impairment (n=4). The adult pain interference t-score mean was 51.9 (n = 35, SD = 9.1); pediatric was 51.0, (n = 18, SD = 8.1). A one-sample t-test revealed that across all participants pain interference (M = 51.6, SD = 8.7) was not significantly different than the general population. Univariate analysis of variance determined that there were no significant differences in pain between primary impairment groups nor between age groups. However, data showed that males reported slightly more pain compared to females which trended towards significance (p = .09). Adaptive athletes did not have any more pain interference than the general population, which implies practitioners should continue to connect clients to adaptive sport opportunities.


Amtmann, D. A., Cook, K. F., Jensen, M. P., Chen, W-H., Choi, S. W., Revicki, D., Cella, D., Rothrock, N., Keefe, F., Callahan, L., Lai, J-S. (2010). Development of a PROMIS item bank to measure pain interference. Pain, 150(1), 173–82.

Diaz, R., Miller, E. K., Kraus, E., & Fredericson, M. (2019). Impact of adaptive sports participation on quality of life. Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review, 27(2), 73–82.

Varni, J. W., Stucky, B. D., Thissen, D., DeWitt, E. M., Irwin, D., Lai, J-S., Yeatts, K., & DeWalt, D. A. (2010). PROMIS Pediatric Pain Interference Scale: An item response theory analysis of the Pediatric Pain Item Bank. Journal of Pain, 11(11), 1109–19.