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Sports Injuries in Paralympic Track and Field Athletes with Visual Impairment


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2013 - Volume 45 - Issue 5 - p 908–913
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31827f06f3

Purpose The aims of this study were to determine the epidemiology, nature, and pattern of sports injuries in Brazilian Paralympic track and field athletes with visual impairment and to assess differences between visual classes and sex.

Methods Forty visually impaired elite Paralympic athletes participated in this study (28 males and 12 females). All athletes competed in International Paralympic competitions between 2004 and 2008. According to the visual classification, 14 athletes were T/F11, 15 were T/F12, and 11 were T/F13. A standardized report form was used to collect injury data during five competitions.

Results Thirty-one athletes reported 77 sports injuries, with a prevalence of 78%, a clinical incidence of 1.93 injuries per athlete, and an incidence rate of 0.39 injuries per athlete per competition. Overuse injuries accounted for 82% and traumatic injuries 18% (P < 0.05). Small variations in the prevalence and clinical incidence of injury between sexes and visual classes were observed, but these were not statistically different (P > 0.05). The highest distribution of injury was in the lower limbs (87%), followed by spine (12%) and upper limbs (1%). The body regions most affected were the thighs (33.8%), lower legs (16.9%), and knees (9.1%). The most frequent diagnoses were spasms (26%), tendinopathies (23.4%), and strains (13%).

Conclusions Elite visually impaired track and field Paralympic athletes present a pattern of overuse injuries predominantly affecting the lower limbs, particularly the thighs, lower legs, and knees. These injuries are associated with tendinopathies, muscle spasms, and strains. There were no apparent differences in injury characteristics between visual classes or sex.

1Department for Adapted Physical Education, University of Campinas, BRAZIL; 2Department for Movement Science, Federal University of São Paulo, BRAZIL; and 3Department for Health, University of Bath, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: James Bilzon, Ph.D., Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2012.

Accepted for publication November 2012.

©2013The American College of Sports Medicine