The injury experience of the competitive athlete with a disability: prevention implications

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Feb;24(2):184-8.


The purpose of this project was to describe the injury experiences of athletes with disabilities. A cross-disability instrument was developed to measure variables of interest. A retrospective survey was administered to 426 athletes who participated at the 1989 national competition of the National Wheelchair Athletic Association (NWAA), United States Association for Blind Athletes (USABA), and the United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association (USCPAA). The definition of injury was any trauma to the participant that occurred during any practice, training, or competition session that caused the athlete to stop, limit, or modify participation for 1 d or more. Thirty-two percent (N = 137) of the total respondents reported at least one time-loss injury. By organization, 26% of the total injuries were from the NWAA and 37% were from the USABA and USCPAA, respectively. The shoulder and arm/elbow accounted for 57% of the total NWAA injuries. Fifty-three percent of the injuries to the USABA athlete were to the lower extremity. Injuries to the USCPAA athlete were distributed among four body locations, knee (21%), shoulder (16%), forearm/wrist (16%), and leg/ankle (15%). The athlete with a disability demonstrated approximately the same percentage of injury as the athlete without a disability in similar sport activities. Biomechanical considerations of locomotion and specific sport skills should be analyzed by experts to reduce the percentage of injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Blindness
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology