Objective: To compare first disability and anthropometric variables and second disability and game efficiency measures.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver (2010).
Participants: A sample of 54 (age, 30.85 ± 7.99 y) of the 114 elite ice sledge hockey athletes participated in this study. To be included in the analysis, an athlete had to participate for a minimum of 45 minutes in total and in a minimum of 2 games during the tournament.
Assessment of risk factors: Athletes were categorized according to type of disability into 4 groups: group 1 (double amputee above and below the knee), group 2 (single amputee above and below the knee), group 3 (spinal cord injury), and group 4 (other physical disabilities, including phocomelia, cerebral palsy, sclerosis multiplex, and lower limb paresis, and players with minimal disability). Before the tournament, athletes completed a Personal Questionnaire Form. Data including anthropometric measurements (seated position and range of arms) and length of the sledge were also collected.
Main outcome measures: All 20 scheduled games were videotaped using 3 video cameras. The games were analyzed after the tournament by 5 observers. All observations were recorded using the Game Efficiency Sheet for Ice Sledge Hockey developed by the authors. Fourteen game parameters were included for analysis.
Results: The instrument was developed specifically for this project's exploratory analysis. Interobserver and intraobserver reliability were established by statistical analysis (r > 0.93 and r > 0.95, respectively). Significant differences between disability groups were found for training frequency (F3,50 = 4.73, P = 0.006), height (F3,50 = 12.54, P = 0.001), and sledge length (F3,50 = 12.35, P = 0.001). The results of the Tukey honestly significant difference post hoc analyses revealed significant differences between groups 1 and 4 (P = 0.026), 2 and 4 (P = 0.007), and 3 and 4 (P = 0.013) for training frequency. There were also significant differences between groups 1 and 2 (P < 0.001), 1 and 4 (P < 0.001), and 2 and 4 (P = 0.021) for body height. In sledge length, significant differences were observed between groups 1 and 2 (P < 0.001), 1 and 3 (P < 0.001), 1 and 4 (P = 0.016), and 2 and 4 (P = 0.028). There was no strong evidence to support disability group differences in game efficiency measures.
Conclusions: The results may confirm the lack of a need for additional classification in sledge hockey beyond minimum eligibility or may enhance the argument that a classification system may be needed because the lower functioning disabilities are not being represented in the sport.