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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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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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Alysha Hyde, Luke Hogarth, Mark Sayers, Emma Beckman, Mark J. Connick, Sean Tweedy and Brendan Burkett

Purpose:

To quantify the influence of the assistive pole, seat configuration, and upper-body and trunk strength on seated-throwing performance in athletes with a spinal-cord injury (SCI).

Methods:

Ten Paralympic athletes competing in wheelchair rugby, basketball, or athletics (seated throws) participated in 2 randomized sessions: seated throwing and strength tests. Participants threw a club from a custom-built throwing chair, with and without a pole. 3D kinematic data were collected (150 Hz) for both conditions using standardized and self-selected seat configurations. Dominant and nondominant grip strength were measured using a dynamometer, and upper-body and trunk strength were measured using isometric contractions against a load cell.

Results:

Seated throwing with an assistive pole resulted in significantly higher hand speed at release than throwing without a pole (pole = 6.0 ± 1.5 m/s, no pole = 5.3 ± 1.5 m/s; P = .02). There was no significant difference in hand speed at release between standardized and self-selected seating configurations during seated throwing with or without an assistive pole. Grip strength (r = .59–.77), push/pull synergy (r = .81–.84), and trunk-flexion (r = .50–.58) strength measures showed large and significant correlations with hand speed at release during seated throwing with and without an assistive pole.

Conclusions:

This study has demonstrated the importance of the pole for SCI athletes in seated throwing and defined the relationship between strength and seated-throwing performance, allowing us to better understand the activity of seated throws and provide measures for assessing strength that may be valid for evidence-based classification.