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PM R. 2014 Aug;6(8 Suppl):S11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2014.04.013.

Paralympic classification: conceptual basis, current methods, and research update.

Author information

1
The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies, Brisbane, Australia∗; The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies, Brisbane, Australia†; The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies, Brisbane, Australia‡. Electronic address: seant@hms.uq.edu.au.
2
The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies, Brisbane, Australia∗; The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies, Brisbane, Australia†; The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies, Brisbane, Australia‡

Abstract

Paralympic classification systems aim to promote participation in sport by people with disabilities by controlling for the impact of impairment on the outcome of competition. Valid systems of classification ensure that successful athletes are those who have the most advantageous combination of anthropometric, physiological, and/or psychological attributes, and who have enhanced them to the best effect. Classification systems that are not valid pose a significant threat to Paralympic sport and, therefore, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has a Classification Code which includes policy commitment to the development of evidence-based methods of classification. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of current best practice in classification for athletes with physical impairments, and to update research advances in the area. Currently, classification has 4 stages: (1) establish whether the athlete has a health condition that will lead to one or more of the 8 eligible types of physical impairment, (2) determine whether the athlete has an eligible impairment type, (3) determine whether the impairment is severe enough, and (4) determine in what class the athlete should compete. A sequential 4-step process that outlines how to initiate and develop evidence-based methods of classification is described: (1) specification of impairment types that are eligible for the sport; (2) development of valid measures of impairment(s); (3) development of standardized, sport-specific measures of performance; and (4) assessment of the relative strength of association between measures of impairment and measures of performance. Of these, the development and reporting of valid measures of impairment is currently the most pressing scientific challenge in the development of evidence-based methods of classification.

PMID:
25134747
DOI:
10.1016/j.pmrj.2014.04.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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