Improving physical activity in spinal cord injury

The role of design and aesthetics within rehabilitation facilities.

It is well established that regular participation in physical activity has significant health benefits. However, people with spinal cord injury (SCI) are one of the least active populations globally.

There are multiple barriers to physical activity in this population, including a lack of accessible opportunities, high costs, and inadequate transport options.

Research in this area has primarily focused on the barriers to physical activity faced by community-dwelling adults with SCI. However, no research has yet examined how physical activity might be affected by the architectural and aesthetic environment of healthcare settings.

Following a SCI, an individual can spend several weeks (often months) as an inpatient in a rehabilitation facility. Over such an extended period, the physical environment, including aspects of the interior design and aesthetics, have potential to impact engagement with rehabilitation, as well as life-long attitudes toward physical activity post-injury.

Lynsey Speirs Doctoral Researcher

Research in focus

The influence of design on attitudes toward physical activity

The overarching aim of this research is to investigate how interior design and aesthetics within rehabilitation facilities influences attitudes toward physical activity following a SCI.

To achieve this, we are undertaking several projects to understand how hospital interior design is currently considered in relation to facilitating positive attitudes toward physical activity within long-stay rehabilitation units.

The role that environments play in rehabilitation settings remains unexplored in the context of SCI. Therefore, our research presents a novel and exciting opportunity to investigate how evidence-based design can be harnessed in rehabilitation settings to improve physical activity, as well as quality of life, for the millions of people with SCI globally.

Dr David Maidment Lecturer in Psychology

Meet the experts

Dr David Maidment

Dr David Maidment

Lecturer in Psychology

David’s research focuses on digital interventions to improve physical activity and reduce noncommunicable disease risk in adults with physical and sensory disabilities.

Lynsey Speirs

Lynsey Speirs

Doctoral Researcher

Lynsey’s research focuses on the barriers and facilitators to physical activity following spinal cord injury. Lynsey also competes in wheelchair basketball for Loughborough Lightning.