Benefits of Exercise with Mini Tennis in Intellectual Disabilities: Effects on Body Image and Psychopathology

Maria Carolina Hardoy1, 2, *, Maria Luisa Seruis2, Francesca Floris2, Federica Sancassiani2, Maria Francesca Moro2, Gisa Mellino2, Maria Efisia Lecca2, Siria Adamo2, Mauro Giovanni Carta2
1 Reald University Vlore, Albania, University of Cagliari, Italy
2 Center for Liaison Psychiatry and Psychosomatics, University of Cagliari, Italy

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© Hardoy et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Center for Liaison Psychiatry and Psychosomatics, University of Cagliari, Italy; Tel: +39 335499994; Fax: +39 070 6093498; E-mail:


The present study is aimed at evaluating the efficacy of an introductory mini tennis programme as a therapeutic aid in the psychosocial rehabilitation of participants affected by mild/moderate intellectual disability in semi-residential care.

Two groups (N=12) of participants diagnosed with intellectual disability, one of which followed the mini tennis rehabilitation programme, were compared at time t0, t1 (after 2 months) and t2 (after 6 months).

Psychopathological status was assessed by means of the Italian version of the Assessment and Information Rating Profile (AIRP). Motor coordination, lateral dominance and body scheme were assessed by means of structured tools.

Psychopathological total scores showed a statistically significant decrease in the experimental group in comparison with the control group. A statistical decrease in the group with the mini tennis rehabilitation programme was found also in the anxiety sub-scale while the sub-scales schizophrenia, depression, adjustment disorder, personality problems, somatoform disorders and psychosexual disorders did not reach any statistical difference between groups.

A statistically significant increase in the visuo manual coordination was highlighted in the experimental versus the control group. No statistically significant differences were reported with regard to general movement skills, dynamic balance and coordination.

In spite of the limitations of this study, the results obtained are encouraging and suggest the potential efficacy of mini tennis as an auxiliary aid in rehabilitation programmes, particularly to improve visuo manual coordination skills and to boost the patient/participants' self esteem. These findings warrant confirmation by further research studies.

Keywords: Intellectual disability, mini tennis, anxiety disorders, motor disabilities, rehabilitation, Assessment and Information Rating Profile (AIRP).