Injuries to elite wheelchair athletes

Paraplegia. 1990 Jun;28(5):335-41. doi: 10.1038/sc.1990.44.


The purpose of this project was to describe the nature, type, and frequency of athletic injuries incurred by the elite wheelchair athlete. Nineteen athletes participated in a 1-year injury recall study at an elite wheelchair training camp. An injury was defined as anything the athlete expressed concern about and (a) caused a loss of participation due to an injury or illness or (b) an injury in which a fracture, dislocation, or subluxation occurred and the athlete was able to continue participation. There were 10 male and 9 female subjects who reported their injuries from 1 June 1987 to 31 May 1988. Fifty injuries were reported, strains and muscular injuries accounted for almost half of the injuries. Physicians were the primary care provider for 37% of the injuries, followed by physical therapists and athletic trainers at 26% and 15% respectively. Slightly over 57% of the injuries were classified as minor, missing 7 days or less of participation and 32% were classified as major, missing 22 days or more of participation. The upper extremity was the most frequently injured, followed by the lower extremity, head and spine, and illnesses. Conventional treatments of ice, heat, modalities, and medications, were the most common methods of treating these injuries. Flexibility and strength training programmes should be implemented throughout the competitive season. Careful consideration of the training programme and workout intensity should also be evaluated.

MeSH terms

  • Arm Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Wheelchairs*