What barriers to physical activity do individuals with a recent brain injury face?

Simon Driver, Ph.D., Alison Ede, M.S., Zane Dodd, Ph.D., Laurel Stevens, M.S., C.C.C., S.L.P., Anne Marie Warren, Ph.D.

Published Online: December 30, 2011

Disability and Health Journal, April 2012 Volume 5, Issue 2, Pages 117–125

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2011.11.002



Background and Objective

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health issue that challenges professionals to develop effective health promotion strategies to meet individual’s diverse and unique needs. One effective health promotion strategy is physical activity (PA), although barriers to activity frequently prevent participation. Thus, there is a need to identify the barriers to participation, amount of weekly PA completed, and readiness to be active if effective health promotion programs are to be implemented.


A convenience sample of 28 outpatients with a TBI completed a questionnaire before discharge from a comprehensive outpatient program and descriptive statistics were reported. In addition independent t tests and effect sizes were calculated between amount of PA and stage of change.


Our results indicated that participants only faced an average of 2.25 barriers (range 0-9), completed a mean of 46 minutes of PA each week, and reported being in the “action” stage of PA participation. Individuals in the action and maintenance stage completed significantly more PA (21.67; t [25] = −15.43; p < .001; Cohen’s D effect size = 4.39) than precontemplators or contemplators.


Individuals with a TBI face many different barriers that prevent them from being active, placing them at further risk of experiencing secondary and chronic conditions. Practitioners should acknowledge that each individual faces a unique set of barriers emphasizing the importance of individualized health promotion programs.