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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Steven J. Anderson, MD (University of Washington School of Medicine)
Description: This manual addresses health and fitness concerns of physically disabled young people. It is a result of research funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant called Project Target. By developing fitness tests and normative values for the disabled population, tools are made available to actively address the fitness needs in this group.
Purpose: The authors hope this reference will be helpful in establishing standards and assessment tools for health-related fitness in young people with disabilities. If the information in this reference allows fitness assessment to be carried out more readily, it may open the doors for fitness issues to be addressed in a greater proportion of the disabled population.
Audience: This book can be a benefit to physical education specialists, specialty practitioners for children with disabilities, pediatricians and generalists who care for children, and exercise scientists.
Features: Background information is provided on the role of physical activity and fitness as they relate to health. The instruments for measuring fitness and the standards for fitness must be referenced to the population being tested. By studying physically disabled and normal children, appropriate fitness tests and standards can be developed for both groups. A possible shortcoming of this book relates to the inattention to the medical risks of fitness testing and the risks of promoting strenuous physical activity in a disabled population. Such risks are likely to be rare and they certainly do not warrant abandoning the efforts to promote fitness. However, there are some children with disabilities who probably should not be tested for tolerance. Children with physical handicaps may have concurrent medical problems that preclude maximal exertion. Physical capacity evaluations (for injured workers) require a physician to certify that the patient can be tested to tolerance. The PAR-Q program in Canada (Physical Activity Readiness-Questionnaire) also tries to identify individuals who need medical evaluation or clearance prior to increasing their physical activity. From a liability standpoint, I would hate to see a young person become injured as a result of a program designed to promote health.
Assessment: Many existing publications can be faulted because they address fitness only for "normal" children or they promote fitness without providing specific guidelines for measuring fitness or monitoring the responses to training programs. This book seems to fill a unique role in this regard. It will be interesting to see if it turns out to be a useful tool for physical education specialists or other scientists/educators/medical practitioners. Perhaps additional experience and data collection will further validate the recommendations and standards offered.