Motivations and barriers to prosthesis users participation in physical activity, exercise and sport: a review of the literature

Sarah Deans*, David Burns, Anthony McGarry, Kevin Murray, Nanette Mutrie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Background: The UK will host the Paralympics in 2012 and the Commonwealth Games in 2014 showcasing the talents of elite athletes and aiming to inspire the population to become involved. However, low levels of physical activity are prevalent: only 40% of men and 28% of women meet the minimum UK physical activity recommendations. The population of people with limb absence is no exception.

Objectives: To determine if people with amputation are participating in physical activity and sport; whether post-amputation activity levels match pre-amputation levels; and if there are motivations and barriers to participation.

Study Design: Literature review.

Methods: Five reviewers systematically searched all peer reviewed and gray literature in seven bibliographic databases and the Cochrane Library.

Results: Following rigorous elimination, 12 articles were finally included in the review and critically appraised. Four themes were identified: components; rehabilitation outcomes; body image; and motivations and barriers to participation.

Conclusion: People with limb absence are not participating in physical activity conducive to health benefits, and only a minority participate in exercise and sports. Participation following amputation does not mirror that of pre-amputation levels, and more barriers than motivations exist to adopting or maintaining a physically active lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-269
Number of pages10
JournalProsthetics and orthotics international
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • Health psychology
  • prosthetics
  • rehabilitation of prostheses users
  • rehabilitation psychology

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