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Adapted Sports and Physical Fitness

January 2010

Sports and physical activity are an integral part of the rehabilitation process. In addition to their physical benefits, they help the children gain confidence in themselves and in their social skills so that they may better integrate into community life.

Some of the children will be able to engage in regular activities, however for certain a guide may be required. Therefore, the rehabilitation team assigned to your child will be a valuable asset in helping you identify the most accessible resources. 

The Benefits of Sports and Physical Activity

Sports and physical activity reinforce a number of aspects worked on in the rehabilitation process. They particularly serve to foster the children's:

  • Social integration into the community;
  • Autonomy for their integration into society;
  • Ability to create social bonds and friendships with other children who share in similar interests;
  • Development of strength, physical and motor skills that increase their efficiency with other daily activities;
  • Occupational balance that help them overcome their situation of handicap or difficulties;
  • Self-esteem and confidence in their abilities by achieving personal goals;
  • Feeling of accomplishment and well-being;
  • Release, i.e. letting off steam;
  • Oculomanual coordination, attention, concentration and development of executive functions (organization and planning);
  • Prevention of pain-causing articular deformations;
  • Communication and language skills since children must formulate questions and use acquired vocabulary;
  • Production of clear speech by developing tonus in the trunk as well as respiratory support and control;
  • Understanding the meaning of taking turns;
  • Development of communication strategies: attracting attention, supporting their message with gestures, repeating or reformulating when not being understood, etc.

In contrast, inactivity causes strength and endurance to decrease as well as muscle stiffness and fatigue to increase.

For school-aged children who have already received several hours of individual therapy, participating in a physical group activity is often considered quite positive. 

Adapted Resources

Some of the children's condition requires looking for adapted sports and recreational activities, i.e. a modified way of playing them; rules or equipment adapted to the limitations of those who engage in them.

The family must first make the child's tastes and abilities known in order to select an activity; and to find a guide or to make any needed special arrangements (ex: transportation).

Once this has been done, the family and the child can then meet with the special education teacher, the program's clinical coordinator or any other therapist of the rehabilitation team assigned to the child. They will assist them in identifying the resources that are available in their community, advise them on their choice and determine if any specific arrangements must be made.

For more information, a resource directory is available in the two main lobby areas of the Centre de réadaptation Marie Enfant as well as at the Clinique externe located in the basement of the building. It is also available on the web site:  resource directory.

Guides and Financial Assistance

Different types of guides and financial assistance are made available to parents:

  • The CRME's special education teachers can provide regular support to ensure that your child is integrating into his/her activity. They can make recommendations on specific adaptations that your child may need. Interventions with a physiotherapist or occupational therapist with knowledge about your child may also identify certain needs and make recommendations to adapt the environment.
  • In some cases, the Enfants en Tête Foundation can assume part of the total cost for activities offered at the Regina-Assumpta Centre (website available in French only).
  • AlterGo offers guided assistance programs.
  • Some foundations such as President's Choice can be solicited for financial support; for example, to help you assume the cost for a guide of your choice. The rehabilitation centre where your child is registered can refer and assist you in putting together a funding request.

To Learn More

  • AlterGo : an association made up of about 85 municipal recreational organizations and services in the Montreal area with recreational activities for people with disabilities.
  • Centre Viomax : an organization located in Montreal with a large inventory of physical activities adapted to the needs of people with physical disabilities. Viomax is the only service centre in the metropolitan area that has a fitness centre that is completely accessible to people who use wheelchairs and to people with reduced mobility.
  • Association québécoise de sports pour paralytiques cérébraux : an association that develops activity programs adapted to people with cerebral palsy or other similar conditions (website available in French only).
  • Association québécoise des sports en fauteuil roulant : an organization with a mission to coordinate and provide access to wheelchair sports at all performance levels for people with physical disabilities. 
  • Association des camps du Québec (ACQ) : an association made up of organizations that offer summer and day camps or nature classes.


We would like to thank Sylvie Thibault along with the entire team of the Cerebral Motor Deficits Program for their collaboration in the production of this capsule.

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Updated on 3/20/2015
Created on 1/19/2015
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The CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation’s Mélio Fund – formerly the Fondation Mélio – is an essential pillar of support for the centre of excellence in musculoskeletal disorders and in rehabilitation medicine. It is dedicated to providing ongoing and indispensable support for the 5,000 children with locomotor or speech impairments being cared for at the Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Centre (CRME).


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