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INTERNATIONAL PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE

INJURY AND ILLNESS SURVEYS

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) is conducting ongoing research into the protection of Para athletes’ health. 

This started at the Salt Lake City 2002 Paralympic Winter Games, with more robust epidemiological investigation of illness in athletes with impairment in a Paralympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games beginning at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. 

In summary:

  • Injury rates in Para athletes are slightly higher compared to Olympic athletes, with highest risk of upper-limb injuries
     
  • A clinician travelling to a 10-day event with 100 athletes can anticipate seeing approximately 12-13 injuries, about half of them being new-onset acute injuries in summer sports and can anticipate seeing approximately 20-25 injuries mostly acute injuries in winter sports 
     
  • Male and female athletes have similar injury rates, and older athletes and athletes with spinal cord injury are at increased risk for upper limb injuries
     
  • Athletics, goalball, football 5-a-side and powerlifting are repeatedly reported as the higher risk summer sports; alpine skiing, Para ice hockey and snowboard are the higher risk winter sports
     
  • Illness is common in Paralympic athletes, mostly due to infections (respiratory, skin and subcutaneous tissue, gastro-intestinal)
     
  • Urinary tract infections often occur in athletes with spinal cord injury
     
  • A delay in reporting of more than 24 hours which could have important clinical implications
     

Further detail can be found in the below list of publications. 


Most recently, further research has been initiated to further our understanding of mechanisms of injuries in the shoulder region with the support of the International Olympic Committee. Results will be reported once available.