This three-part investigation conducted a comprehensive analysis of 213 Australian and Canadian athletes’ developmental trajectories, training histories, and experiences in organized sports from 18 Paralympic sports (PS). While athletes with early-onset impairments (i.e., congenital, preadolescent) reached milestones and commenced various types of training at a significantly younger age than athletes with later-onset impairments (i.e., early adulthood, adulthood), the latter groups progressed through their careers and incorporated various trainings at a faster pace (i.e., fewer years). Preferences to certain training conditions varied between groups. Eighty-two percent of the athletes with acquired impairments had experience in able-bodied sports before the onset of their impairment, with 70% noting involvement in sports similar to their current PS. The participation rates (38%) and sport similarity (53%) were lower in PS. The amalgamation of findings from this series of studies highlights the complexity associated with PS athletes’ development and demonstrates the importance of taking an individualized approach.
Nima Dehghansai, Ross A. Pinder, and Joseph Baker
Andreia Bauermann, Karina S.G. de Sá, Zilda A. Santos, and Anselmo A. Costa e Silva
This systematic review aimed to identify nutritional interventions and supplements that improve the performance for wheelchair athletes. Intervention trials involving high-performance wheelchair athletes were analyzed, including those that comprised a nutritional intervention, defined as any intervention related to food, beverages, and supplementation aiming at evaluating the performance of wheelchair athletes. Of the included studies, four evaluated caffeine supplementation, of which one also evaluated sodium citrate supplementation; two studies evaluated vitamin D supplementation; one study assessed creatine monohydrate supplementation; and one assessed carbohydrate supplementation. Most studies were conducted on athletes with spinal cord injury. Athletes who consumed caffeine exhibited an improvement in performance, but this finding is not strong enough to become a recommendation.
J.P. Barfield, Stephanie Williams, Madison R. Currie, and Xiuyan Guo
The purpose of this study was to initiate the development of an evidence-based sport classification system for powerchair football, a sport that serves athletes with physical impairments. Sport classification is designed to increase participation by minimizing the impact of impairment on competition outcome, and powerchair football lacks an evidence-based system of classification which is required of Paralympic sports. A number of approaches were used to build the theoretical model of sport performance (Step 2 of the International Paralympic Committee model). Key sport activities were identified through surveys of stakeholders and underlying determinants of those key activities were identified through game and database analyses. Current findings support drive control, ball control, communication, and adjustment to the ball as key activities in powerchair football with joint-specific strength and range of motion, sensory, and neurological variables identified as underlying determinants.
Anna Carin Aho, Elisabeth Renmarker, Malin Axelsson, and Jenny Jakobsson
Volt hockey is a team sport developed for persons with physical disabilities, but its influence on well-being is unknown. Elements of well-being have been described as positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement constituting a theoretical framework referred to as PERMA. The purpose of this study was to describe how well-being according to PERMA is reflected in the experiences of playing volt hockey. Data were collected through focus group and individual interviews including 21 players. A deductive analysis was conducted using the elements in PERMA as preexisting main categories with an additional main category, named resources needed. Findings showed that all five elements constituting well-being according to PERMA were reflected in the experiences of playing volt hockey. In addition, players emphasized the importance of having the resources needed to play volt hockey. In conclusion, having the opportunity to enjoy playing volt hockey enabled the players to flourish and experience feelings of subjective well-being.
Kyrah K. Brown, Jerrise Smith, Tamaya N. Bailey, Gennel Ortiz, Xiangli Gu, and Priscila Tamplain
Introduction: Parents play a critical role in their child’s participation in community-based intervention programs. Yet, their perspectives remain largely overlooked in the literature. This qualitative program evaluation used social cognitive theory to understand parents’ motivators and barriers to participation in a community-based intervention program designed for children with motor skill difficulties. Method: Parents (n = 15) of children with motor skill difficulties enrolled in a community-based intervention program participated in semistructured interviews. Results: Thematic analysis revealed six motivators (child needs, satisfaction, perceived impact, affordability, design, and program culture) and three perceived barriers (parent knowledge, access, and accommodations). Discussion: Parents’ motivators and barriers reflected a combination of personal and environmental factors consistent with social cognitive theory. This study revealed novel insight into program-related environmental motivators and barriers. Program leaders should consider ongoing evaluation and application of parental perspectives to optimize family participation and retention in community-based interventions.
Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Natasha Bruno, Krystn Orr, Roxy O’Rourke, Virginia Wright, Rebecca Renwick, Kirsten Bobbie, and James Noronha
This cross-sectional study examined experiential elements facilitating quality sport experiences for youth (ages 12–24 years) in Special Olympics, and the associated influences of sport program and sociodemographic characteristics. A total of 451 athletes involved in the 2019 Special Olympics Youth Games completed a survey assessing elements of quality participation (autonomy, belongingness, challenge, engagement, mastery, and meaning). The t tests investigated whether athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities rated elements differently across Traditional and Unified Sport programs. Regression analyses explored whether sport program and sociodemographic characteristics were predictors of these elements. Youth reported high mean scores across the elements, with no significant differences between athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Traditional or Unified Sport. Athletes with no reported disability rated higher autonomy than those who reported disability (p = .01). Women tended to report greater engagement in sport than men (p = .07). Findings provide theoretical and practical insights into quality sport participation among youth in Special Olympics.
Jacqueline C. Ladwig, Tamires C. do Prado, Stephanie J. Tomy, Jonathan J. Marotta, and Cheryl M. Glazebrook
Improvements in functional reaching directly support improvements in independence. The addition of auditory inputs (e.g., music, rhythmic counting) may improve goal-directed reaching for individuals with cerebral palsy (CP). To effectively integrate auditory stimuli into adapted teaching and rehabilitation protocols, it is necessary to understand how auditory stimuli may enhance limb control. This study considered the influence of auditory stimuli during the planning or execution phases of goal-directed reaches. Adults (with CP = 10, without CP = 10) reached from a home switch to two targets. Three conditions were presented—no sound, sound before, and sound during—and three-dimensional movement trajectories were recorded. Reaction times were shorter for both groups in the sound before condition, while the group with CP also reached peak velocity relatively earlier in the sound before condition. The group with CP executed more consistent movements in both sound conditions. Sound presented before movement initiation improved both the planning and execution of reaching movements for adults with CP.
Carly Albaum, Annie Mills, Diane Morin, and Jonathan A. Weiss
Direct, meaningful contact with people with intellectual disability, such as through integrated sport, may be related to positive attitudes. The current study aimed to compare implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious) attitudes between adults involved in integrated sport events and those in a comparison group who were not and examine the association between attitudes and degree of integrated sport involvement. An online survey measuring attitudes was completed by 295 adults without intellectual disability who participated in integrated sport activities and 450 adults who did not. Individuals involved in integrated sport reported less negative behavioral and affective attitudes relative to the comparison group, with mixed results for cognitive attitudes. Groups did not differ on implicit attitudes. Greater integrated sport involvement was related to some aspects of explicit attitudes. Involvement in integrated sport may be linked to how participants view intellectual disability, which has important implications for enhancing social inclusion and informing positive attitudes.
Nima Dehghansai, Veronica Allan, Ross A. Pinder, and Joe Baker
Research has recently examined the role of impairment onset on athlete development in Paralympic sport; however, less is known on how impairment type can impact athlete sporting pathways. In this study, 187 Australian and Canadian Paralympic sport athletes completed a survey. Participants were divided into the following four groups: impaired muscle power (n = 79); ataxia, athetosis, and hypertonia (n = 44); limb deficiencies (n = 42); and other physical impairments (n = 22). Mechanisms of initiation into Paralympic sport varied between groups with some drawn to sport through friends and/or family (i.e., limb deficiencies and other physical impairments groups) while others through talent search programs (i.e., ataxia, athetosis, and hypertonia group) or health care professionals/rehabilitation centers (i.e., impaired muscle power group). Results revealed no significant differences between groups in the chronological age or absolute years for achieving milestones. However, considering the high variability within the sample, more research is necessary to better understand how athletes with different physical impairments navigate through their sporting careers.