Patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) or Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) who participated in wheelchair hockey had higher physical and psychological well-being scores than patients who did not participate in sports, according to a new Italian study.

The results, published in the journal PM&R, found higher scores on the Quality of Life Index (QLI) as well as better physical self-efficacy and perceived physical ability in patients involved in wheelchair hockey.

“These findings suggest the importance of sport activities especially adaptive ones (e.g., wheelchair hockey) as part of the patients’ care intervention,” the authors said.

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The authors mentioned how adaptive sports activities could be complementary additions to rehabilitation and physical therapy for patients with neuromuscular disorders.

On the QLI, the study group of patients participating in wheelchair hockey had statistically higher scores than the control group in regards to the subcategories of health/functioning (P =.0051), psychological/spiritual (P =.0030), and QLI total score (P =.0071).

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The study group also had statistically higher scores on the physical self-efficacy scale (P =.0051) and its perceived physical ability subscale (P =.0097).

When the multivariate analysis was performed and age and pathological condition were accounted for, the differences between the 2 groups remained significant.

However, no differences were found in coping strategies between the 2 groups as measured on the Coping Orientation to the Problems Experienced – New Italian Version 25 (COPE-NVI-25).

A total of 25 patients were recruited for the study including 14 patients with SMA and 11 patients with DMD. Of the patients with SMA, 9 were in the study group compared to 5 in the control group, while 6 of the patients with DMD were in the study group compared to 5 in the control group.

Initially, an additional 8 female patients with SMA were recruited but were later excluded, as none were involved in sports and the confounding factor of gender would be hard to adjust for in the multivariate analysis.


Carraro E, Casiraghi JL, Bobba B, et al. Wheelchair hockey improves neuromuscular patients’ well-being. PM R. Published online November 13, 2021. doi:10.1002/pmrj.12736