Survey of physical activity in persons with limb loss during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

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BACKGROUND: Physical activity has been shown to be fundamental in the prevention of numerous diseases and disorders. Achieving and maintaining physical activity levels can be particularly challenging in those with impairments, such as those experiencing a lower limb amputation. To slow the spread of the virus, COVID-19 lockdown mandates imposed by the US state governments may have inadvertent consequences on physical activity levels of those dependent on specific forms of exercise. Understanding how physical activity levels may have affected persons with limb loss can inform intervention strategies for this vulnerable population.

OBJECTIVES: Examine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity levels in persons with limb loss.

STUDY DESIGN: Mixed-method design.

METHODS: A 20-item logic web-based survey and semistructured interviews were administered to individuals who were 18 years or older, spoke English, and had a history of lower limb loss. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS v25, whereas qualitative data were analyzed using constant comparison to formulate themes.

RESULTS: There were a significant effect on the amount of physical activity minutes performed per day, a negative effect on the ability to exercise and participate in societal engagements, and a series of barriers to performing physical activity because of the pandemic.

CONCLUSION: Physical activity was reduced significantly in persons with limb loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. A combination of health concerns, fitness center closures, and social distancing mandates were the primary drivers behind the decrease in activity.

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Prosthetics and Orthotics International

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This article was published in Prosthetics and Orthotics International.

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