PURPOSE: This study sought to examine the effect of adaptive sports participation on athletic identity and influence on quality of life (QOL) for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP) participating in the CP World Games.
METHOD: Surveys were conducted with 73 international athletes competing in the 2005 CP World Championships. The survey included descriptive questions about sport involvement and socio-demographics, the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale, and the Influence on Quality of Life Scale.
RESULTS: A significant relationship was found between influence on QOL and athletic identity (r = 0.505; p < 0.001). There was a moderate negative correlation between influence of adaptive sport on QOL and severity of disability (r = -0.264, p < 0.05). The majority of the sample either agreed or strongly agreed that adaptive sport positively influenced their overall health (84.9%) quality of life (80.8%), quality of family life (53.4%), and quality of social life (56.1%). Athletic identity (beta = 0.54) was the strongest predictor of influence on QOL with severity of disability (beta = -0.29) also a significant contributor. These athletes also had significantly higher mean AIMS scores when compared to collegiate non-athletes, collegiate recreational athletes, and recreational athletes with disabilities.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that participation in adapted sport is related to QOL and athletic identity for individuals with CP. To foster these benefits advocates for persons with disabilities should work toward increasing opportunities to compete in sports.