Taxonomic Theory and the ICF: Foundations for a Unified Disability Athletics Classification

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 1 University of Queensland, Australia
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Development of a unified classification system to replace four of the systems currently used in disability athletics (i.e., track and field) has been widely advocated. The definition and purpose of classification, underpinned by taxonomic principles and collectively endorsed by relevant disability sport organizations, have not been developed but are required for successful implementation of a unified system. It is posited that the International classification of functioning, disability, and health (ICF), published by the World Health Organization (2001), and current disability athletics systems are, fundamentally, classifications of the functioning and disability associated with health conditions and are highly interrelated. A rationale for basing a unified disability athletics system on ICF is established. Following taxonomic analysis of the current systems, the definition and purpose of a unified disability athletics classification are proposed and discussed. The proposed taxonomic framework and definitions have implications for other disability sport classification systems.

The author’s studies are made possible through the generous support of the Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine (CONROD), Australia. Financial support from Organicacion Nacional de Ciegos de Espana (ONCE) enabled formation of the ONCE Wheelchair Integration Working Party whose members provided valuable feedback on several of the concepts presented in this manuscript at the Canary Islands Meeting, May 14-16, 1999. ONCE Working Party members were Ken Richter (Chair), Jitka Holubcova, Aart Kruimer, Mats Laveborn, Cairbre McCann, and Sean Tweedy.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sean Tweedy, School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia. E-mail: <>.
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