The purpose of this study was to examine the physiological changes in elite wheelchair basketball players leading up to the 2000 Paralympics. Twelve male players attended regular physiological assessments on six occasions; averaged data of two sessions for each year were used. Physiological measures included body mass, skinfold measurements, peak oxygen uptake and peak power obtained during maximal sprinting. VO2peak significantly increased from 2.65 to 2.83 L·min-1 prior to the Paralympics. Training had little influence on the anthropometric measurements or maximal sprinting data. In conclusion, the GB wheelchair basketball players appeared to have high levels of aerobic and anaerobic fitness. The longitudinal physiological profiles leading to the 2000 Paralympics suggest that players improved their aerobic base while maintaining other fitness prerequisites.
Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey and Jeanette Crosland
This study described the dietary intake profiles of 14 female (F) and 9 male (M) trained British wheelchair games players. The M group showed significantly higher daily energy (2060 ± 904 vs. 1520 ± 342 kcal·day-1), carbohydrate and protein intakes than the F group (p < .05). The energy derived from carbohydrate, protein, and fat for both F and M groups were similar (53.6%, 16.9% and 29.3% and 53.3%, 19.0% and 26.8%, respectively), yet the carbohydrate intakes were slightly lower than those recommended for athletes. Only two participants from the F group showed adequate intakes of iron, and 19 participants from both F and M groups did not meet the dietary fiber recommendation but this may be related to individualized bowel management strategies. Overall, the dietary practices encompassed aspects of the dietary guidelines recommended for sport, but balancing the energy needs of wheelchair games play with the promotion of long-term health still needs careful consideration.
Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey and Andrew D. Moss
To compare the velocity characteristics of wheelchair propulsion with and without the use of a tennis racquet, eight male wheelchair tennis players performed a series of 20m sprints from a stationary start. The maximum velocities reached on average 4.39 ± 0.74 m/s; however, they were reduced by 0.18 ± 0.06 m/s during the racquet condition. Furthermore, when wheeling under the racquet condition, the velocities achieved during the first three pushes were significantly reduced. The reduction in maximum velocity and relative velocity contributions while holding a tennis racquet may have been due to an ineffective push technique resulting in low effectiveness of force application. The relation of these parameters and trunk stability is discussed.
Barry S. Mason, Viola C. Altmann, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
Purpose: To determine the effect of trunk and arm impairments on physical and technical performance during wheelchair rugby (WR) competition. Methods: Thirty-one highly trained WR players grouped according to their trunk (no trunk [NT]; some trunk [T] function) and arm impairments (poor, moderate, and good arm function) participated in 5 WR matches. Players’ physical (wheelchair mobility) and technical (ball handling) activities were analyzed using an indoor tracking system and video analysis, respectively. Results: Trunk impairment explained some of the variance in physical (10.6–23.5%) and technical (16.2–33.0%) performance. T covered more distance, had more possession, scored more goals, and received and made more passes yet spent less time at low speeds and performed fewer inbounds than NT (≤.05). Arm impairment explained some of the variance in all physical (16.7–47.0%) and the majority of technical (13.1–53.3%) performance measures. Moderate and good arm function covered more distance, reached higher peak speeds, spent more time in higher speed zones, scored more goals, had more possession, and received and made more passes, with a higher percentage of 1-handed and long passes, than poor arm function. Good arm function also received more passes and made a higher percentage of 1-handed passes and defensive blocks than moderate arm function (P ≤ .05). Conclusions: Arm impairment affects a greater number of physical and technical measures of performance specific to WR than trunk impairment during competition. Having active finger function (good arm function) yielded no further improvements in physical performance but positively influenced a small number of technical skills.
Barry S. Mason, James M. Rhodes, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
The purpose of the current study was to determine the validity and reliability of an inertial sensor for assessing speed specific to athletes competing in the wheelchair court sports (basketball, rugby, and tennis). A wireless inertial sensor was attached to the axle of a sports wheelchair. Over two separate sessions, the sensor was tested across a range of treadmill speeds reflective of the court sports (1.0 to 6.0 m/s). At each test speed, ten 10-second trials were recorded and were compared with the treadmill (criterion). A further session explored the dynamic validity and reliability of the sensor during a sprinting task on a wheelchair ergometer compared with high-speed video (criterion). During session one, the sensor marginally overestimated speed, whereas during session two these speeds were underestimated slightly. However, systematic bias and absolute random errors never exceeded 0.058 m/s and 0.086 m/s, respectively, across both sessions. The sensor was also shown to be a reliable device with coefficients of variation (% CV) never exceeding 0.9 at any speed. During maximal sprinting, the sensor also provided a valid representation of the peak speeds reached (1.6% CV). Slight random errors in timing led to larger random errors in the detection of deceleration values. The results of this investigation have demonstrated that an inertial sensor developed for sports wheelchair applications provided a valid and reliable assessment of the speeds typically experienced by wheelchair athletes. As such, this device will be a valuable monitoring tool for assessing aspects of linear wheelchair performance.
Andrea Bundon, Barry S. Mason, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
This paper demonstrates how a qualitative methodology can be used to gain novel insights into the demands of wheelchair racing and the impact of particular racing chair configurations on optimal sport performance via engagement with expert users (wheelchair racers, coaches, and manufacturers). We specifically explore how expert users understand how wheels, tires, and bearings impact sport performance and how they engage, implement, or reject evidence-based research pertaining to these components. We identify areas where participants perceive there to be an immediate need for more research especially pertaining to the ability to make individualized recommendations for athletes. The findings from this project speak to the value of a qualitative research design for capturing the embodied knowledge of expert users and also make suggestions for “next step” projects pertaining to wheels, tires, and bearings drawn directly from the comments of participants.
Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey, Nicholas J. Diaper, Jeanette Crosland, and Keith Tolfrey
Wheelchair tennis players, competing in hot and humid environments, are faced with an increased risk of heat-related illness and impaired performance. This study examined the effects of head and neck cooling garments on perceptions of exertion (RPE), thermal sensation (TS), and water consumption during wheelchair exercise at 30.4 ± 0.6°C.
Eight highly trained wheelchair tennis players (1 amputee and 7 spinal cord injured) completed two 60-min, intermittent sprint trials; once with cooling (COOL) and once without cooling (CON) in a balanced cross-over design. Players could drink water ad libitum at five predetermined intervals during each trial. Heart rate, blood lactate concentration, peak speed, TS, and RPE were recorded during the trials. Body mass and water consumption were measured before and after each trial.
Water consumption was lower in COOL compared with CON (700 ± 393 mL vs. 1198 ± 675 mL respectively; P = 0.042). Trends in data suggested lower RPE and TS under COOL conditions (N.S.). Total sweat losses ranged from 200 to 1300 mL; this equated to ~1% dehydration after water consumption had been accounted for when averaged across all trials. The ad libitum drinking volumes matched and, in some cases, were greater than the total sweat losses.
These results suggest that there is a counterproductive effect of head and neck cooling garments on water consumption. However, despite consuming volumes of water at least equivalent to total sweat loss, changes in body mass suggest an incidence of mild dehydration during wheelchair tennis in the heat.
Paul Sindall, John P. Lenton, Keith Tolfrey, Rory A. Cooper, Michelle Oyster, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
To examine the heart-rate (HR) response and court-movement variables during wheelchair tennis match play for high- (HIGH) and low- (LOW) performance-ranked players. Analysis of physiological and movement-based responses during match play offers an insight into the demands of tennis, allowing practical recommendations to be made.
Fourteen male open-class players were monitored during tournament match play. A data logger was used to record distance and speed. HR was recorded during match play.
Significant rank-by-result interactions revealed that HIGH winners covered more forward distance than HIGH losers (P < .05) and had higher average (P < .05) and minimum (P < .01) HRs than LOW winners. LOW losers had higher average (P < .01) and minimum (P < .001) HRs than LOW winners. Independent of result, a significant main effect for rank was identified for maximum (P < .001) and average (P < .001) speed and total (P < .001), reverse (P < .001), and forward-to-reverse (P < .001) distance, with higher values for HIGH. Independent of rank, losing players experienced higher minimum HRs (P < .05). Main effects for maximum HR and actual playing time were not significant. Average playing time was 52.0 (9.1) min.
These data suggest that independent of rank, tennis players were active for sufficient time to confer health-enhancing effects. While the relative playing intensity is similar, HIGH players push faster and farther than LOW players. HIGH players are therefore more capable of responding to ball movement and the challenges of competitive match play. Adjustments to the sport may be required to encourage skill developmental in LOW players, who move at significantly lower speeds and cover less distance.
Ben T. Stephenson, Sven P. Hoekstra, Keith Tolfrey, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
Purpose: Paratriathletes may display impairments in autonomic (sudomotor and/or vasomotor function) or behavioral (drinking and/or pacing of effort) thermoregulation. As such, this study aimed to describe the thermoregulatory profile of athletes competing in the heat. Methods: Core temperature (T c) was recorded at 30-second intervals in 28 mixed-impairment paratriathletes during competition in a hot environment (air temperature = 33°C, relative humidity = 35%–41%, and water temperature = 25°C–27°C), via an ingestible temperature sensor (BodyCap e-Celsius). Furthermore, in a subset of 9 athletes, skin temperature was measured. Athletes’ wetsuit use was noted while heat illness symptoms were self-reported postrace. Results: In total, 22 athletes displayed a T c ≥ 39.5°C with 8 athletes ≥40.0°C. There were increases across the average T c for swim, bike, and run sections (P ≤ .016). There was no change in skin temperature during the race (P ≥ .086). Visually impaired athletes displayed a significantly greater T c during the run section than athletes in a wheelchair (P ≤ .021). Athletes wearing a wetsuit (57% athletes) had a greater T c when swimming (P ≤ .032), whereas those reporting heat illness symptoms (57% athletes) displayed a greater T c at various time points (P ≤ .046). Conclusions: Paratriathletes face significant thermal strain during competition in the heat, as evidenced by high T c, relative to previous research in able-bodied athletes and a high incidence of self-reported heat illness symptomatology. Differences in the T c profile exist depending on athletes’ race category and wetsuit use.
Ben T. Stephenson, Christof A. Leicht, Keith Tolfrey, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
Purpose: In able-bodied athletes, several hormonal, immunological, and psychological parameters are commonly assessed in response to intensified training due to their potential relationship to acute fatigue and training/nontraining stress. This has yet to be studied in Paralympic athletes. Methods: A total of 10 elite paratriathletes were studied for 5 wk around a 14-d overseas training camp whereby training load was 137% of precamp levels. Athletes provided 6 saliva samples (1 precamp, 4 during camp, and 1 postcamp) for cortisol, testosterone, and secretory immunoglobulin A; weekly psychological questionnaires (Profile of Mood State [POMS] and Recovery-Stress Questionnaire for Athletes [RESTQ-Sport]); and daily resting heart rate and subjective wellness measures including sleep quality and quantity. Results: There was no significant change in salivary cortisol, testosterone, cortisol:testosterone ratio, or secretory immunoglobulin A during intensified training (P ≥ .090). Likewise, there was no meaningful change in resting heart rate or subjective wellness measures (P ≥ .079). Subjective sleep quality and quantity increased during intensified training (P ≤ .003). There was no significant effect on any POMS subscale other than lower anger (P = .049), whereas there was greater general recovery and lower sport and general stress from RESTQ-Sport (P ≤ .015). Conclusions: There was little to no change in parameters commonly associated with the fatigued state, which may relate to the training-camp setting minimizing external life stresses and the careful management of training loads from coaches. This is the first evidence of such responses in Paralympic athletes.