Students play wheelchair basketball in Georgia State's Student Rec Center

Get Your Head in the Game

by Claire Miller

Wheelchair basketball games are fast-paced exhibitions where athletes wheel themselves back and forth across the court at great speed and skillfully maneuver around their opponents in hopes of finding just the right spot on the court to make the shot.

Associate Professor Deborah Shapiro is working with the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AAASP) and BlazeSports America to examine how adapted sports like wheelchair basketball impact heart rates and activity levels among youth with physical disabilities.

In addition to studying wheelchair basketball’s physical benefits, she’s also looking at how players’ basketball self-efficacy and perceptions of the climate their coaches create has an impact on their enjoyment and the effort they put forth.

Understanding variables that influence physical activity levels of youth with physical disabilities in sport settings and the health benefits of playing sport for youth with physical disabilities will enable program developers to influence policy and increase funding to a build a stronger and more elaborate infrastructure for sport and physical activity opportunities for youth with physical disabilities.

Shapiro said both partner organizations bring a unique audience to the table. While AAASP is dedicated to developing a standardized structure for school-based interscholastic adapted sports programming for students with physical disabilities in partnership with national, state and local education agencies, BlazeSports America works to advance equality, visibility and human rights of people with physical disabilities through community programing and camps for youth, veterans programs and international initiatives.

Partnering with both groups has allowed Shapiro to connect her research to teaching and service enhancing the educational training and preparation of students in her classes to work with individuals with disabilities in sport and physical education settings.