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Identifying the Fundamental Movement Skills for Pediatric Manual Wheelchair Users

A Step Towards the Development of Inclusive Physical Education and Social Participation

Principal investigator at CHU Sainte-Justine

Paula Rushton, OT, PhD, Associate Professor

Research project summary

Children and adolescents who use a manual wheelchair for mobility are not sufficiently physically active to enjoy the health and social benefits of physical activity. The consequences of not doing enough physical activity are more important for children using a wheelchair than their able-bodied peers. Indeed, these consequences may affect participation in daily activities, such as engaging in social activities with friends, going to school, going around the community, playing sports and participating in other leisure activities. The lack of training in the fundamental wheelchair skills required to use a wheelchair safely and efficiently, may explain the low physical activity levels observed among children and adolescents who use a manual wheelchair for mobility. Moreover, limited wheelchair skills can lead to the need to ask someone for help to move around in day-to-day life and to participate in meaningful activities. Unfortunately, health professionals (occupational therapists, for example) do not always have the time to teach these skills during their therapy sessions. So, we need to find another place and time in the daily life of children and adolescents who use a manual wheelchair for mobility to teach them how to safely move around in their wheelchairs daily. The main objective of this descriptive qualitative study is to explore the experience of children and adolescent users of manual wheelchair on the skills and fundamental movements in wheelchair which would allow them to actively participate in physical education courses. 

Who can participate?

Children and adolescents who:

  • Are between 5 and 18 years old
  • Attend a specialized or regular school in Quebec
  • Have been using a manual wheelchair every day for at least 1 year
  • Are able to participate in a 30-to-60-minute focus group in English or French.

Children and adolescents who have cognitive disorders or difficulties in understanding simple gestures are not eligible for this study.

What does participation entail?

Children and adolescents who use a manual wheelchair for mobility and who have provided their assent and for whom their parents gave their informed consent, will take part in two activities: 

  1. Participants will complete a sociodemographic form (~ 10 minutes).
  2. Participants will take part in a virtual or face-to-face focus group (30 to 60 minutes), according to the preference of most of the participants.

Benefits for participants

There is no direct benefit of participating in this research. However, the final deliverable of this project will be used to inform the development of a physical education curricula in Quebec schools that meet the needs of children and adolescents who use a manual wheelchair for mobility.

Participants will receive $25 for their participation in this project. 

Are there any risks?

There is no inconvenience other than the time required to participate in the focus group.

However, there are likely risks related to the confidentiality of focus groups. We will explain to the children the concept of confidentiality and ask them to respect and keep their friends’ proposals confidential.

Project team

Principal investigators:         

  • Paula Rushton, OT, PhD.: Centre de réadaptation Marie Enfant
  • Jérôme Gauvin-Lepage, PhD.: Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en réadaptation du Montréal métropolitain


  • Krista Best, PhD: Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et en intégration sociale (CIRRIS)
  • Marleen Sol, PT, PhD candidate: HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands


  • Dominique Heroux, Cheffe de programme, Réadaptation en milieu scolaire, École Joseph-Charbonneau et École Victor-Dorée


  • Fatimata Ouédraogo, M. Sc. student  



Any questions?

438 459-4636

About this page
Updated on 3/14/2023
Created on 3/14/2023
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