A qualitative study was conducted, among persons with stroke (n = 8) or acquired brain injury (n = 2) from a rehabilitation unit at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were held about perceptions and experiences of walking and physical activity in general. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis, with categories that were determined inductively.
Physical activity in general and walking ability more specifically were considered very important by the participants. However, physical activity was, regardless of exercising habits pre-injury, associated with different kinds of negative feelings and experiences. Commonly reported internal barriers in the current study were; fatigue, fear of falling or getting hurt in traffic, lack of motivation and depression. Reported external barriers were mostly related to walking, for example; bad weather, uneven ground, lack of company or noisy or too busy surroundings.
Persons with stroke or acquired brain injury found it difficult to engage in and sustain an eligible level of physical activity. Understanding individual concerns about motivators and barriers surrounding physical activity may facilitate the work of forming tailor-made rehabilitation for these groups, so that the levels of physical activity and walking can increase.