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

Sean M. Tweedy

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.

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Is Increased Residual Shank Length a Competitive Advantage for Elite Transtibial Amputee Long Jumpers?

Lee Nolan, Benjamin L. Patritti, Laura Stana, and Sean M. Tweedy

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent to which residual shank length affects long jump performance of elite athletes with a unilateral transtibial amputation. Sixteen elite, male, long jumpers with a transtibial amputation were videoed while competing in major championships (World Championships 1998, 2002 and Paralympic Games, 2004). The approach, take-off, and landing of each athlete’s best jump was digitized to determine residual and intact shank lengths, jump distance, and horizontal and vertical velocity of center of mass at touchdown. Residual shank length ranged from 15 cm to 38 cm. There were weak, nonsignificant relationships between residual shank length and (a) distance jumped (r = 0.30), (b) horizontal velocity (r = 0.31), and vertical velocity (r = 0.05). Based on these results, residual shank length is not an important determinant of long jump performance, and it is therefore appropriate that all long jumpers with transtibial amputation compete in the same class. The relationship between residual shank length and key performance variables was stronger among athletes that jumped off their prosthetic leg (N = 5), and although this result must be interpreted cautiously, it indicates the need for further research.

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Evaluating the Validity of Tests to Predict Sprint and Change of Direction Speed in Para-Athletes With Brain Impairments

Raul Reina, Emma M. Beckman, Mark J. Connick, Jemima G. Spathis, and Sean M. Tweedy

Maximum running speed is a performance determinant in para-athletics and cerebral palsy football. Sixty international para-athletes with brain impairments completed five activity-limitation tests (standing broad jump, four bounds for distance, split jumps, 10-m speed skip, and running in place) and two criterion tests (40-m sprint and modified agility test). The same three tests (standing broad jump, four bounds for distance, and 10-m speed skip) that correlated with running performance in nondisabled runners (.67 < r < −.82; p < .05; 75% of variance) also correlated in para-athletes with brain impairments (.41 < r <  −.62; p < .01; 55% of variance). Standing broad jump, four bounds for distance, split jumps, and running in place also correlated with change-of-direction speed (.43 < r <  −.63; p < .01; 58% of variance). Results indicate that methods of classification for para-athletics with nondisabled runners are also valid with para-athletes with brain impairments, and new sport-specific relationships were found for assessing the performance of rapid and short sprints toward different directions, specific of a team para-sport like cerebral palsy football.

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Validity of Two Wheelchair-Mounted Devices for Estimating Wheelchair Speed and Distance Traveled

Kati S. Karinharju, Sjaan R. Gomersall, Kelly M. Clanchy, Stewart G. Trost, Li T. Yeo, and Sean M. Tweedy

This study evaluated the validity of two wheelchair-mounted devices—the Cateye® and Wheeler—for monitoring wheelchair speed and distance traveled. Speed estimates were validated against a calibrated treadmill at speeds from 1.5 to 10 km/hr. Twenty-five wheelchair users completed a course of known distance comprising a sequence of everyday wheelchair activities. Speed estimate validity was very good (mean absolute percentage error ≤ 5%) for the Wheeleri at all speeds and for the Cateye at speeds >3 km/hr but not speeds <3 km/hr (mean absolute percentage error > 20%). Wheeleri distance estimates were good (mean absolute percentage error < 10%) for linear pushing activities and general maneuvering but poor for confined-space maneuvering. Cateye estimates were good for continuous linear propulsion but poor for discontinuous pushing and maneuvering (both general and confined space). Both devices provided valid estimates of speed and distance for typical wheelchair-based exercise activities. However, the Wheeleri provided more accurate estimates of speed and distance during typical everyday wheelchair activities.