Snapshots of our Work

Wellness intervention for persons with spinal cord injury (2022)

Wellness is defined as the existence of positive health in an individual with a focus on functioning, health, and quality of life. Wellness interventions aim to improve overall health and well-being by promoting health behaviors among persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). Previous health behaviors of interest include physical activity, nutrition, stress management, and tobacco use that may be concurrently or separately targeted using behavioral interventions. Indeed, rigorous wellness interventions are founded on behavioral theory such as Social Cognitive Theory, Health Action Process Model, Transtheoretical Model, and Theory of Planned Behavior which outline strategies to initiate and maintain behavior change. Previous wellness interventions among persons with SCI have included in-person workshops, community center-based programs, hospital-based programs, and telehealth-based rehabilitation programs. Future research may focus on mixed-methods approaches that incorporate various stakeholders (i.e., participants, researchers, and the health care community) to create adaptable programs that address the needs and priorities of approximately 288,000 persons living with SCI.

Whose Knowledge Counts in Adapted Physical Activity Research(2022)?

Who is the expert? Whose knowledge counts and what knowledge for whom and by whom is produced? Consequentially, whose knowledge is marginalized? These are critical questions to ask in relation to the field of Adapted Physical Activity (APA). Guided by epistemic and ethical responsibility, the purpose of this study was to respond to these questions through an extensive review of the paradigmatic trends in APA and to report on the roles of people experiencing disability in APA research other than as participant. Attending to the level of epistemology, we go beyond reporting the state of the field to reveal in what ways APA research may or may not be guided by the concerns and needs of the people it is intended to serve and support. Building on the findings, we discuss participatory research and its relevance to APA.

Searching for ontological security: women’s experiences leading to high drive for muscularity (2022)

Women with high levels of drive for muscularity (DFM) may display what could be perceived as non-normative corporeal desires because their commitment to muscle may contrast Western societal expectations of femininity. Little, however, is known about women’s experiences with high levels of DFM. Thus, we explored the stories of women with high DFM and disclose the socio-cultural and personal influences shaping this desire. In-depth life-history interviews were undertaken with 10 females who had extreme scores on the Drive for Muscularity Scale. Participants’ stories focused on a set of early social interactions, in which they were exposed to dominant social narratives of femininity. As a result, they felt pressured to comply with contemporary appearance-related gender norms. Such pressures often manifested in situations where their body was perceived to be outside of gendered contours. Participants’ narratives also identified the lack of control they had over their circumstances. In turn, participants revealed that they developed a strong desire to gain control over their situation and, as a result, they responded by ‘tightly controlling’ and shaping their corporeal self as per gendered expectations. However, through a range of problematic moments (e.g. relationship breakdowns), participants’ gendered ontological security became unsettled. Consequently, these disruptions prompted them to reconsider their relationship to embodiment and its connection to their circumstances. This realisation led to the emergence of a muscularity-focused coping strategy eventually leading to high levels of DFM. Findings reveal that, similar to men, women in this study also use muscle to cope with and negotiate life events.

Cultural Praxis in Critical Disability Studies: Doing socially just work for inclusive physical activity (2023)

There have been increasing calls within critical disability studies to move beyond ethnocentric Global North/Western interpretive lenses, especially when doing work in countries that have historically been oppressed by such cultures. These lenses rarely embrace the unique cultural nuances and social structures of different communities such that meaningful social justice is not possible. Utilizing a novel methodological approach based on Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and concept of cultural praxis, we (the ISPA and colleagues from the University of Tsukuba, Japan) developed a new methodological approach we hope could be a necessary paradigmatic shift toward amplifying disability research beyond ethnocentrism and toward culturally reflexive and relevant study. Focusing on disability inclusive physical education (PE) in Japan, we applied our cultural praxis approach to current literature to create an agenda for socially-just research and practice that ‘fits’ within Japanese culture, history, social structure and educational boundaries.