193957 Marrying aesthetics and function: Removing barriers to the use of adaptive fitness equipment

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stephen Gilson, PhD , Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, University of Maine, Newburgh, ME
Elizabeth DePoy, PhD , Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Sports and fitness engagement are critical to the health of all people. Not only are they are sources of personal enrichment and esteem, but provide physiological, psychological and social benefits essential to the promotion and maintenance of optimal health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, unless individuals are members of or involved with formalized competitive teams such as the Paralympics, those who rely on adaptive apparatus often are faced with significant barriers to full participation in everyday sports and fitness due to equipment shortcomings. These include cumbersome and unappealing design and the failure of adaptive gear to respond to the full range of individual needs. Moreover, because adaptive equipment is typically distributed through medical and rehabilitation venues, it's public and commercial availability and access are extremely limited.

In this presentation, we propose an approach to design and distribution of adaptive sports and fitness equipment that expands sports and fitness participation and its concomitant health benefits to all people. We begin by examining and analyzing the aesthetic and functional barriers of current adaptive equipment design and then present findings of a study on limited public availability. We then proceed with a discussion of solutions that apply the success of commercial strategies such as branding, use of contemporary design aesthetics, niche and commercial marketing to the creation, fabrication and distribution of adaptive sports and fitness equipment. The presentation concludes with the findings of an empirical study of the changes that well designed adaptive equipment elicits in sports and fitness participation.

Learning Objectives:
1. Analyze the design and distribution limitations to adaptive sports and fitness equipment 2. Identify how aesthetic and functional design innovation can improve adaptive equipment 3. Examine the role of innovative adaptive equipment in increasing participation in sports, fitness and thus in improving health for diverse people.

Keywords: Disability, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Collaborated on this research
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.