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Physiological Profiles of Elite Wheelchair Basketball Players in Preparation for the 2000 Paralympic Games

Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey

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.

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Nutritional Practices of Competitive British Wheelchair Games Players

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.

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Wheelchair Velocity of Tennis Players during Propulsion with and Without the Use of Racquets

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.

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Fluid Intake During Wheelchair Exercise in the Heat: Effects of Localized Cooling Garments

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.

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Expert Users’ Perceptions of Racing Wheelchair Design and Setup: The Knowns, Unknowns, and Next Steps

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.

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Validity and Reliability of an Inertial Sensor for Wheelchair Court Sports Performance

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.

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Understanding the Impact of Trunk and Arm Impairments on Wheelchair Rugby Performance During Competition

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.

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Interrater Reliability of the New Sport-Specific Evidence-Based Classification System for Para Va'a

Johanna S. Rosén, Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey, Keith Tolfrey, Anton Arndt, and Anna Bjerkefors

The purpose of this study was to examine the interrater reliability of a new evidence-based classification system for Para Va'a. Twelve Para Va'a athletes were classified by three classifier teams each consisting of a medical and a technical classifier. Interrater reliability was assessed by calculating intraclass correlation for the overall class allocation and total scores of trunk, leg, and on-water test batteries and by calculating Fleiss’s kappa and percentage of total agreement in the individual tests of each test battery. All classifier teams agreed with the overall class allocation of all athletes, and all three test batteries exhibited excellent interrater reliability. At a test level, agreement between classifiers was almost perfect in 14 tests, substantial in four tests, moderate in four tests, and fair in one test. The results suggest that a Para Va'a athlete can expect to be allocated to the same class regardless of which classifier team conducts the classification.

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Brief Report: Training Load, Salivary Immunoglobulin A, and Illness Incidence in Elite Paratriathletes

Ben T. Stephenson, Eleanor Hynes, Christof A. Leicht, Keith Tolfrey, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey

Purpose: To gain an exploratory insight into the relation between training load (TL), salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA), and upper respiratory tract illness (URI) in elite paratriathletes. Methods: Seven paratriathletes were recruited. Athletes provided weekly saliva samples for the measurement of sIgA over 23 consecutive weeks (February to July) and a further 11 consecutive weeks (November to January). sIgA was compared to individuals’ weekly training duration, external TL, and internal TL, using time spent in predetermined heart-rate zones. Correlations were assessed via regression analyses. URI was quantified via weekly self-report symptom questionnaire. Results: There was a significant negative relation between athletes’ individual weekly training duration and sIgA secretion rate (P = .028), with changes in training duration accounting for 12.7% of the variance (quartiles: 0.2%, 19.2%). There was, however, no significant relation between external or internal TL and sIgA parameters (P ≥ .104). There was no significant difference in sIgA when URI was present or not (101% vs 118% healthy median concentration; P ≥ .225); likewise, there was no difference in sIgA when URI occurred within 2 wk of sampling or not (83% vs 125% healthy median concentration; P ≥ .120). Conclusions: Paratriathletes’ weekly training duration significantly affects sIgA secretion rate, yet the authors did not find a relation between external or internal TL and sIgA parameters. Furthermore, it was not possible to detect any link between sIgA and URI occurrence, which throws into question the potential of using sIgA as a monitoring tool for early detection of illness.

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A Multifactorial Assessment of Elite Paratriathletes’ Response to 2 Weeks of Intensified Training

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.