Understanding physical activity in spinal cord injury rehabilitation: translating and communicating research through stories

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to develop an evidence-based resource for knowing and communicating the complexities involved for both males and females in implementing and sustaining a physically active lifestyle shortly after spinal cord injury (SCI). Methods: Synthesizing a set of qualitative and quantitative studies with over 500 spinal cord injured people, the article represents research utilizing the genre of ethnographic creative non-fiction. This genre of representation holds enormous potential for researchers in terms of disseminating their findings to diverse audiences beyond the academy, and having real impact. Results: The ethnographic creative non-fictions show together for the first time the barriers, determinants, benefits, trajectories, emotions, fears, preferred methods and messengers for delivering important physical activity information to men and women with a SCI. Conclusion: The article contributes to knowledge by showing the embodied complexities involved when in rehabilitation for both males and females in implementing and sustaining a physically active lifestyle shortly after SCI. It also makes a contribution to practice by providing researchers, health care professionals and disability user-groups with a theory and evidence based resource to assist in informing, teaching and enabling people living with SCI to initiate and maintain a physically active lifestyle. Stories may be a highly effective tool to communicate with and to influence spinal cord injured people’s activity.