The potential of outdoor contexts within community-based rehabilitation to empower people with disabilities in their rehabilitation

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Purpose: The aim was to examine the potential of outdoor contexts within community-based rehabilitation to empower people with disabilities in their rehabilitation.Materials and methods: Interpretive description was applied as the methodology in a 5-month ethnographic fieldwork study, and guided by social practice theory. In total, 115 people with disabilities were included for participant observation, of which 15 participants were recruited for individual walking interviews.Results: Analysis revealed four overlapping themes. Firstly, "Revisiting the Outdoors" appeared to be an overarching theme, which created a basis for "Building Autonomy" among the participants. The varied outdoor experiences empowered the participants to take a more active role in their rehabilitation. These experiences afforded unique opportunities for "Connecting with Community" and, finally, "Embodied Learning" - that could be transferred to home and to other everyday contexts.Conclusion: Outdoor contexts within community-based rehabilitation appeared to hold strong potential for connecting people with disabilities to communities. Although barriers exist, we argue that revisiting the outdoors supports collective awareness and action with the capacity to influence community attitudes more broadly.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONOutdoor contexts within community-based rehabilitation for people with disabilities capitalise on the features of both indoor and outdoor environments with activities that meet shifting individual priorities and needs.Outdoor contexts within community-based rehabilitation offer people with disabilities empowering experiences that are part of the landscape of everyday life and transfer well to home and other environments.Community-based rehabilitation directly involving outdoor contexts and supported by professional skills provides a crucial bridge from individual rehabilitation to community belonging.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2021

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