Physical activity for youth with disabilities: a critical need in an underserved population.

The recommended amount of daily physical activity for youth is 60 minutes a day, most days of the week. Youth with disabilities are not achieving this target and are significantly less active and more obese than their non-disabled peers. The combination of the health risks associated with physical inactivity and obesity presents a serious health concern in this population. While there is a small amount of research on interventions aimed at improving fitness among youth with disabilities, the majority of these studies were conducted in clinical settings where most or all of the common barriers to participation were eliminated (e.g. transportation, lack of knowledgeable staff, adaptation of programmes and/or facilities to child’s needs). One of the most important challenges for paediatric rehabilitation and healthcare professionals is finding ways to increase physical activity and fitness among youth with disabilities in community-based settings. The use of information technology (IT) to customize physical activity programmes for youth with disabilities offers a promising approach to addressing this important health issue in the future.