Sports Therapy For People With Disabilities

Currently, there are many options to improve the quality of life for people with different needs. Sports therapy for people with disabilities is a great way to benefit movement, physical health and overall lifestyle.
Sports Therapy For People With Disabilities

Last update: 04 January, 2020

Everyone has the right to reach and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In the case of differently-abled people, this is more important than ever. Sports therapy for people with disabilities improves their lifestyle. It can also be an essential part of medical therapy to achieve a healthier way of living.

Around the world, many associations and governments have been able to facilitate sports therapy for people with disabilities. These initiatives have managed to create a positive environment for sports as therapy.

Of course, it’s well-known that sports have a positive impact on health. Nevertheless, this is especially so with differently-abled people.

Today’s article is all about the benefits of sports as therapy. But first, let’s make clear what we mean by “people with disabilities”.

What is a disability?

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a disability is:

“Physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person’s ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions.”

Of course, not all disabilities are the same. One could argue that disabilities are quite individual to each person’s journey. Nevertheless, there have been efforts to classify them at least in broad types.

Different types of disability

People with a certain level of disability are classified into various groups. This makes it easier for institutions to properly administrate individualized resources. In this way, it’s easier to provide optimal conditions in terms of quality of life. Thus, we recognize five types of disability:

  • Physical: people with physically limited bodies.
  • Mental: people with alterations in behavior that interfere with daily life.
  • Sensory: this pertains to a deficiency in apprehending the world through the senses.
  • Visceral: usually refers to organic issues, such as diabetes or heart problems.
  • Multiple: it’s produced when a single individual presents several conditions that can be grouped in more than one of the above-mentioned categories.

Advantages of sports therapy for people with disabilities

The use of sports as a therapy for differently-abled people isn’t new. The training is based on re-educating or improving a physical or mental illness in any type of person. In these cases, sports practice involves undeniable physical and mental improvements.

A disability doesn’t need to be a reason to neglect sports.

Research shows that people with disabilities benefit tremendously from sports therapy on a social, mental and physical level. This is especially true for people with complex disabilities that affect their day-to-day activities.

Among people with disabilities, sports therapy can grow into a competitive discipline! In this sense, any sport can be developed for fun, competitive and social purposes.

Mental benefits

People with disabilities face difficulties when performing regular activities than people without disabilities. Constantly encountering these issues can have negative consequences in the long run, especially when it comes to mental health and social bonding.

In contrast, sports therapy can effectively reverse this situation. Here’s how:

  • Self-improvement: doing physical activity always promotes a greater sense of self-esteem. In the sports field, the fact of achieving a physical objective is closely tied with an improved view of one’s self.
  • Social integration: disabled people shouldn’t only practice physical activity with others with the same conditions. The next step is to be equally included in practices with people without such disabilities. This effectively improves acceptance and tolerance
  • Individual well-being: regardless of having a disability, sports boost a person’s endorphin levels. In turn, this improves their mental state and happiness.

Physical benefits

Regardless of the type of disability, everyone can become involved in some kind of sports or physical therapy activity. In turn, this improves physical condition. Here are some of the health benefits of sports therapy for people with disabilities:

  • Muscle development: if the specific condition allows it, sports therapy will include training to increase strength. Thus, this will help the patient regain control of his or her own body.
  • Improved sense of orientation, balance, and coordination: through sports therapy, you’ll re-learn to interact with the environment on a physical level. Thus, by handling a ball, running or training your balance, everyday life will be infinitely easier.
Therapeutic sport in people with disabilities can help them improve many aspects of their lives.
  • Fight against a sedentary lifestyle: being overweight or obese is the main cause of many chronic diseases. Among people with disabilities, this is especially important. You should lower the chance of further health or mobility issues! In this sense, sports therapy can boost your daily calorie burn and lower the risks of a sedentary lifestyle.

Sports for people with disabilities: closing thoughts

Sports have many benefits for disabled and non-disabled people. Because of it, sports therapy can be a great option! It’ll improve both the physical and mental state of any person.

Whether you want to start with sports as actual medical therapy or are interested in trying out competitive sports, give it a try! Soon enough you’ll get to see –and feel- first-hand how your quality of life improves because of it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aguado, A., Flórez, M.A. y Alcedo, M.A. (2004). Programas de cambio de actitudes ante la discapacidad. Psicothema, 16 (4), 667-673.Consultado el 25 de febrero de 2010 en
  • Escandell, O. y Santiago, O. (1998). Actitudes hacia la discapacidad. Evaluación e intervención psicoeducativa: Revista interuniversitaria de Psicología de la Educación, 1, 295-314.
  • Puig de la Bellacasa, R. (1987). Concepciones, paradigmas y evolución de las mentalidades sobre la discapacidad. Revista del Real Patronato de Prevención y Atención a personas con minusvalías, 14, 27-61.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.