The purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to explore the body image of athletes with physical disabilities, and (b) to understand how sport influences body image among these athletes. We interviewed 20 male and female athletes (Mage = 34.25, SD = 8.49) from a variety of sports regarding their body image and the role of sport in influencing body image. A thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was used to generate six themes: (a) personal significance of injury and disability, (b) noncentrality of the body and disability, (c) positive influence of sport on body esteem, (d) social factors influencing body-related emotions and perceptions, (e) body critiques and preferences, and (f) positive thoughts and emotions about the body. Sport seemed to be an important vehicle for experiencing body-related pride, and athletes expressed an intimate connection with the body parts that enabled them to physically compete.
Nick Galli is with the Department of Health Promotion and Education, University of Utah. Justine J. Reel is with the College of Health and Human Services, University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Hester Henderson and Nicole Detling are with the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah.