Clinical Perspectives in Research and Product Development
Biomechanical analyses of the performance of Paralympians: From foundation to elite level Sarah A. Curran1 and Laurent Frossard 2,3
Wales Centre for Podiatric Studies, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, UK Group of Research on Adapted Physical Activities, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada 3 Marie Enfant Rehabilitation Centre, CHU Sainte-Justine, Montreal, Canada (Article as published in: Curran S, Frossard L. Biomechanical analyses of the performance of Paralympians: From foundation to elite level. 2012. Prosthetics and Orthotics International. 36 (3). p 380-395. http://poi.sagepub.com/content/36/3/380) Summary Biomechanical analysis of sport performance provides an objective method of determining performance of a particular sporting technique. In particular, it aims to add to the understanding of the mechanisms influencing performance, characterization of athletes, and provide insights into injury predisposition. Whilst the performance in sport of able-bodied athletes is well recognised in the literature, less information and understanding is known on the complexity, constraints and demands placed on the body of an individual with a disability. This paper provides a dialogue that outlines scientific issues of performance analysis of multi-level athletes with a disability, including Paralympians. Four integrated themes are explored the first of which focuses on how biomechanics can contribute to the understanding of sport performance in athletes with a disability and how it may be used as an evidence-based tool. This latter point questions the potential for a possible cultural shift led by emergence of user-friendly instruments. The second theme briefly discusses the role of reliability of sport performance and addresses the debate of two-dimensional and three-dimensional analysis. The third theme address key biomechanical parameters and provides guidance to clinicians, and coaches on the approaches adopted using biomechanical/sport performance analysis for an athlete with a disability starting out, to the emerging and elite Paralympian. For completeness of this discourse, the final theme is based on the controversial issues on the role of assisted devices and the inclusion of Paralympians into able-bodied sport is also presented. All combined, this dialogue highlights the intricate relationship between biomechanics and training of individuals with a disability. Furthermore, it illustrates the complexity of modern training of athletes which can only lead to a better appreciation of the performances to be delivered in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Key words: reliability, classification system, sport performance, biomechanics, Paralympian
SC: Using one spinal cord injury related and one transtibial amputee as examples, what advice do you give to an athlete expressing an interest in participating in a sport? LF: I can only encourage all persons with a, so-called, disability to be involved in sport activities, Curran S, Frossard L. 2012. Prosthetics and Orthotics International Page 1 of 22
Biomechanical analyses of the performance of Paralympians: From foundation to elite level
adapted or not. Go for it! Various factors could make this experience rewarding. In my opinion, it is essential that participants find the right match between their physical abilities, personal preferences and access to local resources. Paralympic sports are designed for individuals with amputation, spinal cord injury as well as visual impairment, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and other forms of impairments (“les autres”). The good news is list of sports on offer can accommodate a range of physical abilities and classifications  . Some required minimal engagement like Boccia. Others are highly demanding like the Marathon. So, there are opportunities for...