Understanding physical activity participation in spinal cord injured populations: three narrative types for consideration

The aim of this study was to identity the types of physical activity narratives drawn upon by active spinal injured people. More than 50 h of semi-structured life-story interview data, collected as part of larger interdisciplinary program of disability lifestyle research, was analysed for 30 physically active male and female spinal cord injury (SCI) participants. A structural narrative analysis of data identified three narrative types which people with SCI draw on: (1) exercise is restitution, (2) exercise is medicine, and (3) exercise is progressive redemption. These insights contribute new knowledge by adding a unique narrative perspective to existing cognitive understanding of physical activity behaviour in the spinal cord injured population. The implications of this narrative typology for developing effective positive behavioural change interventions are critically discussed. It is concluded that the identified narratives types may be constitutive, as well as reflective, of physical activity experiences and therefore may be a useful tool on which to base physical activity promotion initiatives.