Science & Research

Lessons for life

Research aims to help people with intellectual disabilities

BY LIZ KATYNSKI
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012

Dr. Melanie Gregg is looking for ways to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. And she believes athletes with intellectual disabilities can help.

An associate professor in the Kinesiology Department at the University of Winnipeg, Gregg is studying how athletes with intellectual disabilities cope with the pressure of playing sports, and how they transfer those skills to everyday life.

"Some of the skills used by these athletes include setting goals, managing their emotions before, during and after an event, and coping under pressure," she says. "I looked at whether they were nervous, excited or fearful of the event they were playing in, and how they got through that."

In the first phase of her research, Gregg surveyed athletes with intellectual disabilities on a range of issues, such as what they liked or disliked about the pressure of competition and how they dealt with it.

The next phase in Gregg's study is to ask those athletes how they use their sportsassociated skills outside of sports. After this phase is completed, Gregg says the answers will be used to form a training method to teach non-athletes with intellectual disabilities.

"It might be in the form of a workbook or workshops," says Gregg, adding this could then be used by schools or health-care organizations that deal with people with intellectual disabilities.

"For example, an athlete uses imagery to play a sport. A non-athlete would use the same technique, imagining something like how to get to their bus stop, get on the bus and pay for their ticket, and where to get off the bus. This imagery or visualization is done before the trip even starts."

Wave: November / December 2012

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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