The British Paralympic Association (BPA) is one of the longest established organisations for disability sport worldwide and the British team has historically been one of the largest and most successful teams. From 1960 until 1972 all athletes had a spinal cord related disability (SCRD = spinal cord injury/spina bifida) hence the rationale for choosing SCRD athletes only. It was not until 1976 athletes with limb deficiencies started participation (also visually impaired athletes and later cerebral palsy 1980).
The impact of sporting activity on future health across a lifetime, is an important consideration for all sports participants. A risk assessment by sports, results in an improved understanding of the risk of participation and outlines the priorities for injury prevention is essential. For athletes with a disability, this is even more important as the ability to perform activities of daily living on an ongoing basis may be significantly impaired by injury in sport.
This project began in 2014 and is still ongoing.
The aim of this pump priming pilot study is to determine the size of the paralympic population of sports participants with spinal cord injury. This will be used to calculate the sample size for the main study using a power calculation. It will also develop a data base of participants who have indicated that they would be happy to participate in the main study. The main study will retrospectively compare British Paralympic spinal cord injured athletes (from 1960 onwards) to a control group of spinal cord injury non-sporting athletes.
The outcome measures will examine shoulder pain and quality of life. The data will be matched for age, gender and lesion level.
The hypothesis is that former paralympian athletes will be fitter, more active, have less pain, a lower BMI and body weight than the non-sporting controls. The data will also be explored to determine the relationship of pain to activity, overuse injury and development of arthritic changes in relation to sporting activity. The main study will inform future healthcare needs.
Associate Professor Anne Mandy
Professor Nick Webborn
The British Paralympic Association (BPA)