Adaptation, self-motivation and support services are key to physical activity participation three to five years after major trauma: a qualitative study

Christina L Ekegren, Sandra Braaf, Shanthi Ameratunga, Jennie Ponsford, Andrew Nunn, Peter Cameron, Ronan A Lyons, Belinda J Gabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Questions: What are the perceived long-term impacts of major trauma on physical activity participation over time? What factors influence physical activity participation in people recovering from major trauma? Design: Longitudinal qualitative study. Participants: Sixty-six people aged ≥ 16 years with non-neurological major trauma. Methods: Participants were interviewed 3 years (n = 66), 4 years (n = 63) and 5 years (n = 57) after their injury. A thematic analysis was performed. Results: Despite wanting to be physically active, many participants experienced significant, long-term physical activity restriction after their injury, which persisted over time. Restrictions were often related to a fear of re-injury or of exacerbating pain and fatigue levels. These restrictions were a source of distress and frustration for many participants, given the perceived impacts on their social life, family roles and enjoyment of life. Participants were also concerned about weight gain, health decline and reduced physical fitness. Participants valued the support of insurers and specialised services in facilitating access to modified activities, such as clinical Pilates and hydrotherapy. Many participants also recognised the importance of adaptation, goal-setting, self-motivation and determination to be physically active despite limitations. Conclusion: People recovering from major trauma experienced significant and persistent physical activity restriction after their injury. Given the high prevalence of activity restrictions, distress and health concerns that were reported, there is an urgent need to develop and evaluate support strategies to improve physical activity participation in this group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-195
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physiotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Exercise
  • Recovery
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Trauma
  • Wounds and injuries

Cite this