Sports for the physically disabled. The 1976 Olympiad (Toronto)

Am J Sports Med. Sep-Oct 1979;7(5):293-6. doi: 10.1177/036354657900700504.


The 1976 Olympiad for the Physically Disabled was the first olympiad with full competition for blind, paralyzed, and amputee athletes. More than 1,500 from 38 countries took part in wheelchair (12 events), blind (8 events), and amputee (11 events) games. Participants were classified by an international team of doctors. The athletes were accomodated in university residences with small infirmaries. A school near the games site was used as a field hospital. Rest areas were also set up. Volunteers served on the medical staff (three doctors, three nurses, three receptionists, and three physical therapists on each of two shifts per day). In addition doctors, nurses, trainers, and physical therapists rotated around various venues at the games site. Physicians treated 285 patients (184 were athletes; others were spectators) for a variety of problems, physical therapists treated 119 athletes, and trainers treated 114 athletes. Contigency plans in case of mass disaster were made but were not needed. Disabled athletes are slightly more vulnerable to stress and fatigue than able-bodied athletes. The Toronto games will probably be remembered as the turning point in the emergence of sports for the disabled from a purely rehabilitation measure to a true sporting event in its own right.

MeSH terms

  • Amputees
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy
  • Blindness
  • Canada
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Humans
  • Medical Staff
  • Paralysis
  • Sports*