The number of wheelchair-bound athletes training for and competing in local, state, national, and international sporting events increases every year. As participation increases, sports injuries associated with the training and competition of these athletes also increase. Medical attention for wheelchair athletes during training and competition should be provided by competent professionals. However, even with competent professionals providing medical attention to wheelchair athletes, injuries do occur. Typical injuries experienced by the wheelchair-bound athlete include carpal tunnel syndrome, various shoulder problems, numerous problems with the hands, and lacerations, abrasions, and contusions to all parts of the body. The ability of the wheelchair athlete to thermoregulate his or her own body is also an area of concern for those providing health care during practice and competition. More researchers are studying injuries and injury rates to the wheelchair athlete, and the body of literature in this area is becoming larger. Future research can begin to document the effects of strength training, nutrition, various conditioning strategies, the biomechanics of the wheelchair motion, and the psychological impact of athletic injuries. Although some physiological factors have been studied, many remain to be addressed in an effort to shed light on the injuries experienced by wheelchair athletes.
Request reprints from Dr. Brent C. Mangus, School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154.