“The car is my extra legs”: Experiences of outdoor mobility amongst immigrants in Sweden with late effects of polio

Publisher's full text
Iolanda Santos Tavares Silva
Felicia Kjellgren
Katharina S. Sunnerhagen

Background

The aim of the study was to describe the experience of outdoor mobility among immigrants with late effects of polio living in Sweden. There is a need to understand more about this young group of persons since they often have problems with mobility and gait, but they may also face participation restrictions due to issues associated with integration into a new community and culture.

Method

A total of 14 young immigrants with late effects of polio participated and were interviewed individually. The study used a qualitative method to explore personal experiences and the interviews were analyzed through an inductive approach, using qualitative content analysis.

Results

The analysis led to a major theme; self-image and acceptance, that comprised a changeable process and experiences of cultural, social, and gender-specific barriers, but also of environmental and personal factors that impacted their outdoor mobility. By using a car, the participants felt they could come across as normal which also increased their self-esteem.

Conclusions

Independent mobility is a major enabler for ongoing employment and being able to use a car increases the chances for integration into society for young immigrants with late effects of polio. Public transport is not considered to be adequate or efficient enough due to the participants’ mobility impairments, but driving can prevent involuntary isolation and facilitate participation. A car can increase quality of life but may also be a facilitator for work and reduce the demand for societal support.

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