Adapted physical activity for persons with intellectual disability in european university training programmes

Por: Annelies Van Peteghem, Herman Van Coppenolle, Iana Dobreva e Stefka Djobova.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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There are several European University training programmes, in which special attention is given to persons with an intellectual disability in the domains of Psychomotor Therapy (PMT) and Adapted Physical Activity (APA). The Two University programmes that I want to present are: the specialisation programme in Psychomotor Therapy and the European Master in Adapted Physical Activity (EMDAPA). On the other hand the subject of sport and physical activities for intellectually disabled persons is one of the priority topics within the framework of the European Thematic Network in APA (THENAPA). Basic information related to this specific subject is offered in one of the products of THENAPA: the CD-ROM "ADAPT".

The specialisation programme in psychomotor therapy (PMT) exists already 30 years in the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL). It is an international master after master programme offering 60 study points, where the admission criteria is a master degree in physical education or physiotherapy. In this approach movement situations are systematically used as a therapeutic objective in psychiatric patients (adults and children) and persons with an intellectual disability. The main objective within this last group is trying to optimise their psychosocial functioning as well as their physical fitness and skills. (

The European Master programme in Adapted Physical Activity (EMDAPA) is an international programme among 28 partner universities involved and co-ordinated by the KUL. It exists already 13 years. It gives a significant theoretical and practical preparation, with respect to the implication of APA and sports for persons with an intellectual disability.

The objectives of the courses are to provide a framework for determining the functional capacity and developing appropriate exercise programmes. Another focus is the optimisation of psychosocial and physical self-development where the ultimate goal is social inclusion and improved quality of life through participating in Adapted Physical Activities and Sports. ( This programme will be proposed to the European Commission as an Erasmus Mundus Programme.

The European Thematic Network Adapted Physical Activity (THENAPA) gathered representatives from 26 European countries during 4 years with the purpose to create an ideal profile of a curriculum for an APA specialist. The curriculum represents the minimum course content on APA required in Physical Education, Physiotherapy and specialised APA programmes across Europe. After the profile was defined and in order to present the core content in an attractive way, following the new trends in teaching and learning, the CD-ROM ‘ADAPT’ was produced. "ADAPT" is a valuable resource and a tool for on campus and distance learning and can be used for planning and implementing a curriculum and service provision in APA. (


With the new perspectives in the global European education system through the Erasmus Mundus programme, we are planning to spread the examples of good practice in APA on a world-wide level.






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