Objective: This study investigated performance, neuromuscular characteristics, and fatigue in Paralympic athletes with cerebral palsy (CP) during a maximal explosive performance trial, compared with well-trained, sprint-specific able-bodied athletes.
Design: Six Paralympic athletes with hemiplegic CP and 12 able-bodied athletes performed one 40-m sprint test (in seconds) and Vertical Jump Tests off both legs (in centimeters), the affected leg individually (in centimeters), and the nonaffected leg individually (in centimeters) before and after an adapted Multistage Shuttle Run Test to exhaustion. Electromyography of five bilateral muscles was measured for mean amplitude (percentage maximum activation).
Results: The 40-m sprint test, Vertical Jump Test off both legs, and Vertical Jump Test off the affected leg were significantly compromised in the CP group, whereas the Vertical Jump Test off the nonaffected leg was similar between groups (P < 0.05). Both groups fatigued similarly in performance and electromyography. Affected side electromyography was higher than nonaffected electromyography in the Vertical Jump Test off both legs and Vertical Jump Test off the affected leg in both groups.
Conclusions: The similarity in fatigue between CP and able-bodied groups confirms that Paralympic athletes with CP may have overcome deficits associated with CP documented in sedentary children. The identified asymmetry may assist with a deeper understanding of performance deficits in CP, as it is indicated that activity generated by both legs is performed toward the capacity of the affected leg.