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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Annual Meeting Abstracts: F-45 - Free Communication/Slide: Chronic Disease and Special Populations

Heart Rate Increases during Power Soccer Competition among Individuals with Disabilities.

Barfield, J.P.1; Malone, Laurie A.2; Collins, Jill2; Ruble, Stephen3

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Author Information

1Emory & Henry College, Emory, VA.

2Lakeshore Foundation, Birmingham, AL.

3Samford University, Birmingham, AL.



Despite an increase in health promotion literature specific to individuals with disabilities, research is limited regarding the physiological responses to exercise among this population (Rimmer, Braddock, & Pitetti, 1996). To date, no empirical studies have examined potential benefits associated with participation in power soccer, an activity designed for individuals with physical disabilities. Although use of a power wheelchair by participants theoretically limits physical benefits, pilot work has shown a potential cardiovascular response. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the magnitude of the heart rate response to participation in competitive power soccer. The secondary purpose was to determine if responses differed among individuals with cerebral palsy (CP), spinal cord injury (SCI), and muscular dystrophy (MD). METHODS: Power soccer players participating in the 2003 national power soccer tournament volunteered to participate in a non-randomized pre-test post-test design. All methods were approved by institutional review. Heart rate (HR) was recorded every 5 seconds throughout pre-game (PRE) and game (GAME) conditions by Polar S610 monitors and later downloaded. Average HR values were determined for the following conditions: PRE, GAME, and RESPONSE (difference score between GAME HR and PRE HR). Power analyses based on pilot data were conducted to ensure adequate sample size. To determine if HR increased from PRE, one-sample t-tests were conducted on the RESPONSE variable for each disability group (p<.01). Analysis of variance with post hoc comparisons and Kruskal-Wallis tests (when necessary) were used to determine significant mean differences across CP (n = 31), SCI (n = 10), and MD (n = 7) for mean GAME and RESPONSE heart rates (p<.01). RESULTS: Mean RESPONSE HR was 32 ± 12.71 bpm for CP (p<.01), 18.62 ± 5.84 for SCI (p<.01), and 26.48 ± 7.98 for MD (p<.01), indicating an exercise-like response among power chair users. In addition, 9 of 31 individuals with CP demonstrated a mean GAME HR above 70% HRMax. No individuals with SCI demonstrated a GAME HR above 70% HRMax. Individuals with CP and MD demonstrated significantly higher mean GAME HR than individuals with SCI (p<.01). Individuals with CP also demonstrated a significantly higher mean RESPONSE HR than individuals with SCI. CONCLUSION: Despite the use of a power wheelchair, power soccer participants demonstrated a substantial heart rate during power soccer competition. Increases from pre-game levels were most pronounced in individuals with CP and MD.

©2004The American College of Sports Medicine


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