Current Trends in Exercise Intervention Research, Technology, and Behavioral Change Strategies for People With Disabilities: A Scoping Review

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Abstract

This review synthesized physical activity and exercise intervention literature for the past 10 yrs for people with physical and cognitive disabilities including intervention characteristics, behavior change strategies, and types of technologies used to improve targeted outcomes. Systematic searches yielded 132 eligible studies. The major disability groups were multiple sclerosis (41%), stroke (15%), and spinal cord injury (12%). Research designs primarily involved randomized controlled trials (61%) versus quasi-experimental designs (39%). Approximately 20% of the interventions used some form of the following technology: information and communication technology (48%), interactive technology (37%), or electronic gauges (30%). Eighteen percent of studies used intervention strategies based on behavioral theory, which was typically combined with technology to promote activity and increase adherence in generally larger study samples. The three prevailing theories included social cognitive theory (58%), supportive accountability theory (21%), and transtheoretical model (21%). Upon completing the intervention, studies reported primarily significant outcomes (80%). Exercise research for PWD has grown in both quantity and quality, but several gaps remain. Study findings provide a roadmap for future exercise trials on understudied populations and highlight technology and behavior change theory as drivers of future intervention research.

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