Paralympic Sports Medicine

Para athletes are an atypical group with a wide variety of medical conditions. Some common medical issues will prevail in relation to the impairment types and these need to be considered as part of the medical provisions at events.

The IPC Medical Committee works in close collaboration with different external partners on the development of medical information sheets.


Autonomic Dysreflexia and Boosting

Persons with cervical or high thoracic spinal injuries can suffer from an abnormal sympathetic reflex called Autonomic Dysreflexia. This reflex is caused by painful stimuli to the lower part of the body, particularly distension or irritation of the urinary bladder. The symptoms of dysreflexia are a rapid rise in blood pressure, headache, sweating, skin blotchiness and gooseflesh. In serious cases, confusion, cerebral haemorrhage and even death can occur. This reflex may happen spontaneously or may be deliberately caused (“Boosting”). As this is a health hazard, the IPC forbids athletes to compete in a hazardous dysreflexic state.

Details are outlined in the Position Statement on Autonomic Dysreflexia and Boosting, which is part of the IPC Handbook.