Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Sports Education Leadership


Sports Education Leadership

First Committee Member

Gerald E. Landwer, Co-Chair

Second Committee Member

Doris L. Watson, Co-Chair

Third Committee Member

Timothy J. Bungum

Graduate Faculty Representative

Lawrence A. Golding

Number of Pages



The purpose of this study was to examine the association between regular physical activity and body composition in individuals with physical disabilities. The study was designed to compare body composition parameters between wheelchair users participating in adapted sports programs and those being physically inactive. Male wheelchair users were recruited and classified based on physical activity level (active or inactive) and disability type (paraplegic or quadriplegic). Regional and whole-body percent body fat (%BF), lean body mass (LBM), and bone mineral density (BMD) were assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. These variables were then compared among the groups using a two-way between-groups multivariate analysis of covariance with age, body mass index, and time since injury/disease as covariates. The physically active, paraplegic and quadriplegic men had a significantly higher BMD in the arms than did their physically inactive counterparts. Furthermore, arm BMD tended to be higher in the paraplegic group than in the quadriplegic group. The paraplegic men had a significantly lower %BF and a higher LBM in the arms than did the quadriplegic men. Any regional and whole-body %BF or LBM were not associated with physical activity level. In conclusion, playing adapted sports is associated with an increased BMD in the arms among wheelchair users. On the other hand, engaging in regular physical activity is not likely to influence BMD in the trunk, lower limbs, and the whole body among these individuals. A higher functional capacity is related to favorable %BF, LBM, and, to some extent, BMD in the upper limbs among wheelchair users, whereas playing wheelchair sports at recreational levels may not be sufficient to positively affect %BF or LBM in this population.


Adapted sports; Athletes with disabilities; Basketball for people with disabilities; Bone mineral density; Human body — Composition; Lean body mass; People with disabilities; Percent body fat; Sports for people with disabilities; Wheelchair basketball; Wheelchair rugby; Wheelchair sports


Exercise Science | Kinesiology | Recreational Therapy | Sports Sciences

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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