Biomechanical consequences of impairment: a taxonomically valid basis for classification in a unified disability athletics system

Res Q Exerc Sport. 2003 Mar;74(1):9-16. doi: 10.1080/02701367.2003.10609059.


Developing a unified classfication system to replace four of the systems currently used in disability athletics (i.e., track and field) has been widely advocated. The diverse impairments to be included in a unified system require several assessment methods, results of which cannot be meaningfully compared. Therefore, the taxonomic basis of current classification systems is invalid in a unified system. Biomechanical analysis establishes that force, a vector described in terms of magnitude and direction, is a key determinant of success in all athletic disciplines. It is posited that all impairments to be included in a unified system may be classified as either force magnitude impairments (FMI) or force control impairments (FCI). This framework would provide a valid taxonomic basis for a unified system, creating the opportunity to decrease the number of classes and enhance the viability of disability athletics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Disabled Persons / classification*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Sports* / classification
  • Sports* / physiology
  • Wheelchairs