Physiological Responses of Individuals With Severe/Profound Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities to Assisted Exercise

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Human Performance and Recreation

First Advisor

James William Larson, Jr.

Advisor Department

Human Performance and Recreation


This study was designed to determine the physiological responses of individuals with severe/profound mental retardation and multiple disabilities to assisted exercise. The investigation concentrated on the relationship of the variables of skin temperature, heart rate response and edemic reaction in the lower extremities to an assisted exercise program. The assisted exercise program utilized was a modified tandem exercise cycle monitored and powered by the examiner. The subjects of the study consisted of three clients that are residents of a state operated intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded (ICF/MR). The subjects were diagnosed with profound mental retardation with profound skill deficits and lower extremity disabilities. The subjects were monitored for heart rate, skin temperature and edemic reaction before, during and/or after assisted exercise. A single subject design was utilized to examine the effects of assisted exercise on the parameters of heart rate response, skin temperature and edemic reaction. A baseline study of activities of daily living recorded heart rate and skin temperature responses. A graphic representation of the data compared the response of baseline measures and assisted exercise measures for 20 sessions (5 baseline and 15 exercise). The comparison of the responses indicate there were physiological changes in skin temperature, heart rate response and edemic reaction evidenced as a result of assisted exercise for the three subjects in the study. The skin temperature and post heart rate response measures appears to have increased with an approximate linear relationship across the three subjects during the assisted exercise. The edemic reaction in two of the subjects appears to have decreased with a pre- to post-assisted exercise comparisons of the ankle girth.