The current study explored coach and athlete reactions and challenges leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with a specific focus on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Games’ postponement. Nine Australian Paralympic coaches (n = 3) and athletes (n = 6) shared their experiences in semistructured interviews. The thematic analysis highlighted how participants experienced the emergence of the pandemic in different ways, but all were relieved when the late but eventual decision to postpone the Games was made. Regarding lockdown periods (i.e., social-distancing restrictions), some coaches and athletes thrived under the new reality (i.e., training from home, online coaching) while others had more difficulty adjusting. Furthermore, results highlight the many uncertainties still remaining, which continue to influence participants’ sport and personal lives. The experiences of coaches and athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic sheds light on strategies and resources that could support Paralympic coaches and athletes during current and future crises.
Nima Dehghansai, Alia Mazhar, Ross Pinder, Joseph Baker, and Ian Renshaw
Deirdre Lyons, Philip Clarke, and Robert C. Dempsey
Limited research into professional rugby union players’ experiences of seeking formal support for their mental health exists, despite comparable rates of mental health issues among elite rugby players with the general population. This qualitative study explored professional players’ actual experiences of accessing Rugby Players Ireland’s mental well-being service, via separate focus group discussions with professional players (n = 5) and player development managers (n = 4) who refer players into the service. An inductive reflexive thematic analysis identified three themes detailing players’ (a) journey to disclosure of their mental health difficulties, (b) their expectations and engagement with the well-being service, and (c) participants’ reflections on mental health experiences in a high-performance environment. Embedding mental health as a key component of player development in high-performance environments, improving mental health literacy, normalizing mental health experiences, and encouraging help-seeking would help promote player well-being and support holistic development alongside sporting performance.
Meghan Lamers, Erika E. Howe, Geoffrey A. Power, and Leah R. Bent
To determine how heating affects dynamic joint position sense at the knee, participants (n = 11; F = 6) were seated in a HUMAC NORM dynamometer. The leg was passively moved through extension and flexion, and participants indicated when the 90° reference position was perceived, both at baseline (28.74 ± 2.43 °C) and heated (38.05 ± 0.16 °C) skin temperatures. Day 2 of testing reduced knee skin feedback with lidocaine. Directional error (actual leg angle–target angle) and absolute error (AE) were calculated. Heating reduced extension AE (baseline AE = 5.46 ± 2.39°, heat AE = 4.10 ± 1.97°), but not flexion. Lidocaine did not significantly affect flexion AE or extension AE. Overall, increased anterior knee-skin temperature improves dynamic joint position sense during passive knee extension, where baseline matching is poorer. Limited application of lidocaine to the anterior thigh, reducing some skin input, did not influence dynamic joint position sense, suggesting cutaneous receptors may play only a secondary role to spindle information during kinesthetic tasks. Importantly, cutaneous input from adjacent thigh regions cannot be ruled out as a contributor.
Kwok Ng, Sean Healy, Wesley O’Brien, Lauren Rodriguez, Marie Murphy, and Angela Carlin
For the first time, data on children and adolescents with disabilities in Ireland are reported based on the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance Para Report Card methodology. The most recent data from the last 10 years were used in the grading process (A+ to F), and indicators with insufficient data were graded as incomplete. Of the 10 indicators from the Global Matrix Para Report Cards, grades were assigned to Overall Physical Activity (F), Organized Sport (D), Active Transport (D−), Sedentary Behaviors (D−), Family & Peers (C), School (C−), Community & Environment (B−), and Government (B). Irish disability sport organizations were invited to assess the research-led audit and provided commentary around the final grading. The contextual discussion of the grades is presented through the lens of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with the purpose being to provide direction for the reduction of physical activity disparities among children with disabilities.
Yen-Ting Chen, Shengai Li, Yingchun Zhang, Ping Zhou, and Sheng Li
Startling acoustic stimulation (SAS) causes a transient effect on the primary motor cortex (M1) nonreflexively. It reduces the cortical excitability at rest, but not during voluntary contraction. However, the effect of SAS on intracortical activity is not clear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the SAS effect on short-interval intracortical inhibition and intracortical facilitation using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Eleven healthy individuals performed isometric elbow flexion at 10% of maximum voluntary contraction on the dominant side with a real-time visual target (i.e., M1 preactivation) or at rest. TMS was delivered to the M1 ipsilateral to elbow flexion without or with SAS delivered 90 ms prior to TMS. There were three TMS delivery conditions: (a) single pulse, (b) short-interval intracortical inhibition, and (c) intracortical facilitation. TMS-induced motor-evoked potential (MEP) was compared between predetermined TMS and SAS conditions at rest and during ipsilateral voluntary contraction. We confirmed that SAS decreased the MEP amplitude at rest, but not during M1 preactivation. SAS caused task-specific effects on intracortical excitability. Specifically, SAS increased intracortical facilitation at rest and during voluntary contraction. However, SAS decreased short-interval intracortical inhibition only during M1 preactivation. Collectively, our results suggest that SAS transiently influences the motor cortex excitability, possibly via its activation of higher centers, to achieve a visually guided goal-directed task.
Danica Janicijevic, Sergio Miras-Moreno, Alejandro Pérez-Castilla, Jesús Vera, Beatriz Redondo, Raimundo Jiménez, and Amador Garcia-Ramos
A military-specific reaction time (RT) test was developed to explore its reliability and sensitivity to discriminate between military personnel and sport science students. Fifteen male professional Spanish soldiers and 16 male sport science students completed two RT test modalities: military-specific and nonspecific RT tests. For each RT test modality, both the Simple (i.e., one stimulus, one response) and the Go, No-Go RT (i.e., true, and false stimuli, one response) were tested. The military-specific RT test consisted of a video presented through virtual reality glasses of a forest environment in which soldiers would appear from behind different bushes (stimuli) and the response consisted of pressing the button of a gun-shaped mouse (when they saw a soldier pointing a rifle at them). Both Simple and Go, No-Go RT reached acceptable reliability in both populations (coefficient of variation ≤ 9.64%). Military personnel presented a lower RT than sport science students during the military-specific RT test (p ≤ .001), while no differences were obtained during the nonspecific RT test. RT values were not significantly correlated between the military-specific and nonspecific RT tests (r ≤ .02). These findings collectively suggest that the novel military-specific RT test is an ecologically valid alternative to evaluate the information processing abilities of military personnel.
Yue Luo, Nicolas Grimaldi, Haolan Zheng, Wayne C.W. Giang, and Boyi Hu
The prevalence of phone use has become a major concern for pedestrian safety. Using smartphones while walking reduces pedestrians’ ability to perceive the environment by increasing their cognitive, manual, and visual demands. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of common phone tasks (i.e., reading, tapping, gaming) on walking behaviors during outdoor walking. Nineteen young adults were instructed to complete four walking conditions (walking only, walking–reading, walking–tapping, and walking–gaming) along an open corridor. Results showed that all three phone tasks increased participants’ neck flexion (i.e., neck kyphosis) during walking. Meanwhile, the reading task showed a greater influence on the temporal aspect during the early phases of a gait cycle. The tapping task lowered the flexion angles of the middle and lower back (i.e., torso lordosis) and induced a longer terminal double support. And the gaming task resulted in a decrease in middle back flexion, a shorter stride length, and a longer terminal double support while walking. Findings from the study confirmed our hypothesis that phone tasks changed pedestrians’ physical responses to smartphone distraction while walking. To avoid potential risks caused by the observed posture and gait adaptations, safety precautions (e.g., roadside/electronic warning signals) might be imposed depending on the workload expected by different phone tasks.
Will Bosch, Amir Esrafilian, Paavo Vartiainen, Jari Arokoski, Rami K. Korhonen, and Lauri Stenroth
Pain felt while performing rehabilitation exercises could be a reason for the low adherence of knee osteoarthritis patients to physical rehabilitation. Reducing compressive forces on the most affected knee regions may help to mitigate the pain. Knee frontal plane positioning with respect to pelvis and foot (functional knee alignment) has been shown to modify the mediolateral distribution of the tibiofemoral joint contact force in walking. Hence, different functional knee alignments could be potentially used to modify joint loading during rehabilitation exercises. The aim was to understand whether utilizing different alignments is an effective strategy to unload specific knee areas while performing rehabilitation exercises. Eight healthy volunteers performed 5 exercises with neutral, medial, and lateral knee alignment. A musculoskeletal model was modified for improved prediction of tibiofemoral contact forces and used to evaluate knee joint kinematics, moments, and contact forces. Functional knee alignment had only a small and inconsistent effect on the mediolateral distribution joint contact force. Moreover, the magnitude of tibiofemoral and patellofemoral contact forces, knee moments, and measured muscle activities was not significantly affected by the alignment. Our results suggest that altering the functional knee alignment is not an effective strategy to unload specific knee regions in physical rehabilitation.
Leonardo Cesanelli, Sigitas Kamandulis, Nerijus Eimantas, and Danguole Satkunskiene
To describe the possible effects of chronic specific exercise training, the present study compared the anthropometric variables, muscle–tendon unit (MTU) architecture, passive stiffness, and force production capacity between a group of competitive cyclists and runners. Twenty-seven competitive male cyclists (n = 16) and runners (n = 11) participated. B-mode ultrasound evaluation of the vastus lateralis muscle and patellar tendon as well as passive stiffness of the knee extensors MTU were assessed. The athletes then performed a test of knee extensor maximal voluntary isometric contractions. Cyclists displayed greater thigh girths, vastus lateralis pennation angle and muscle thickness, patellar tendon cross-sectional area, and MTU passive stiffness than runners (P < .05). Knee extensor force production capacity also differed significantly, with cyclists showing greater values compared with runners (P < .05). Overall, the direct comparison of these 2 populations revealed specific differences in the MTU, conceivably related to the chronic requirements imposed through the training for the different disciplines.
Javier Pérez-Tejero, Mauro Grassi-Roig, Javier Coterón, and Yeshayahu Hutzler
In Spain, wheelchair basketball competition is well developed and structured; however, reverse integration is not allowed. This study aimed to describe and synthesize the perceptions of Spanish wheelchair stakeholders (players, coaches, referees, and club managers). A mixed-method approach was used, utilizing an ad hoc survey questionnaire (n = 49) and three focus groups (n = 12). Quantitative and qualitative data were interpreted using a triangulation strategy, meaning that both sources of data were combined and analyzed. From the thematic content analysis, two main themes and several subthemes emerged: social context (audience attraction and economic impact, utility and logistics, and promoting inclusion) and sport context (grassroots and elite level). Some reservations at elite level were also reported. From the perspective of the stakeholders explored in this study, reverse integration appears to be well suited for implementation within the Spanish wheelchair basketball framework at all levels.