In disability swimming, a functional classification system is used in which swimmers with varying impairments compete against each other in one of 10 classes. In classification research, the criterion most often used to judge validity (fairness) is statistical difference in race performance between adjacent classes. Additional criteria are proposed here. First, the world-record swimming speed should decrease in a predictable manner with decreasing functional class. Second, classes should be clearly discriminated by race performances. To aid in evaluating these criteria, a comparison of the competitiveness (depth of the field) of the classes is made. The criteria were not strictly met in all classes. However, the sprint freestyle events approached fairness, especially for men. The exceptions were more due to a lack of maturity of the sport than to fundamental unfairness. Because of the more complex nature of breaststroke, more problems were observed related to classification fairness in this event.
Daniel J. Daly and Yves Vanlandewijck
Yeshayahu Hutzler, Yves Vanlandewijck and Monica Van Vlierberghe
The purpose was to compare the anaerobic performance of male and female wheelchair basketball players in the 30-s Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT), performed on a mobile wheelchair ergometer. Participants were 10 female and 10 male wheelchair basketball players, aged 39 to 56, from a provincial wheelchair basketball team. Variables measured included peak and mean velocity and power, as well as the fatigue indices. Test-retest reliability, based on 13 participants (7 males and 6 females), ranged from .88 to .95 for peak and mean power and velocity variables and from .40 to .62 for the fatigue indices. Findings for the sample of 20 indicated that (a) males had significantly higher peak and mean velocity and power than females, and (b) females had significantly higher velocity fatigue indices than males.
Natalia Morgulec, Andrzej Kosmol, Yves Vanlandewijck and Elzbieta Hubner-Wozniak
The purposes of this study were to compare the anaerobic performance of 19 active and 12 sedentary individuals with quadriplegia on the Wingate arm ergometric test and to investigate the relationship between participants’ demographic information (lesion level, time since injury, age, body mass) and their anaerobic performance variables. The following parameters were measured: peak power (PP), mean power (MP), lowest power (LP), time to achieve PP (t), fatigue index (FI), relative values of PP and MP with respect to body mass, and postexercise blood lactate accumulation (LA). Lowest power, MP, relative values of MP (rMP), FI and LApeak in the active group were significantly higher than in the sedentary group. There was a significant correlation between rMP and injury lesion level (p = .016). It was concluded that for active individuals with quadriplegia, muscle endurance (MP) and fatigability (FI) are higher than for sedentary individuals with quadriplegia.
Debbie Van Biesen, Jennifer Mactavish, Janne Kerremans and Yves C. Vanlandewijck
Evidence-based classification systems in Paralympic sport require knowledge of the underlying effect of impairment in a specific sport. This study investigated the relationship between cognition and tactical proficiency in 88 well-trained table tennis players with intellectual disability (ID; 29 women, 59 men, M ± SD IQ 59.9 ± 9.6). Data were collected at 3 competitions sanctioned by the International Federation for Para-Athletes with Intellectual Disabilities (INAS). A generic cognitive test consisting of 8 neuropsychological subtests was used to assess cognitive abilities relevant to sport (reaction time, processing speed, and decision speed; spatial visualization; fluid reasoning; memory; executive functioning; and visual processing). The backward stepwise-regression analysis model revealed that 18% of the variance in tactical proficiency was attributed to spatial visualization and simple reaction time. Applications of these findings resulted in an evidence-based classification system that led to the reinclusion of athletes with ID in Paralympic table tennis and provide the basis for future research in this important area.
Yves C. Vanlandewijck, Arthur J. Spaepen and Roeland J. Lysens
Fifty-two male elite wheelchair basketball athletes, classified into four functional ability classes, were studied to determine whether overall wheelchair basketball performance in a game situation is related to the functional ability level of the participant. To determine the quality of the individual’s game performance, 18 championship games were videotaped and analyzed by means of the Comprehensive Basketball Grading System. Physical fitness parameters (propulsive force and aerobic power) were determined in specific laboratory conditions. Force application on the wheelchair handrims was measured by means of an ergodyn device. Finally, the subjects, while in their wheelchairs, performed a maximal exercise capacity test on a motordriven treadmill. The analyses indicated significant differences in field performance and aerobic power between Class I and the rest of the classes. However, isometric and dynamic force application on the handrims could not be proven to be functional ability dependent. In conclusion, reducing the number of classes to improve fair and equitable competition in wheelchair basketball was considered viable.
Debbie Van Biesen, Joeri Verellen, Christophe Meyer, Jennifer Mactavish, Peter Van de Vliet and Yves Vanlandewijck
In this study the ability of elite table tennis players with intellectual disability (ID) to adapt their service/return to specific ball spin characteristics was investigated. This was done by examining the performance of 39 players with ID and a reference group of 8 players without ID on a standardized table tennis specific test battery. The battery included 16 sets of 15 identical serves that had to be returned to a fixed target, and two additional tests measuring reaction time and upper limb speed. A 2 × 4 ANOVA (with group and type of spin as independent variables) with repeated measurements (15 consecutive returns) supported the hypothesis that elite table tennis players with ID were significantly less proficient than their counterparts without ID, but both groups demonstrated a comparable progression in learning. Spearman correlation coefficients indicated a positive relationship between accuracy of return and upper limb speed (rho = 0.42: p < .05) and reaction time (rho = 0.41: p < .05), showing that these generic factors are useful in partially explaining skill variations in specific sports.
Valeria Rosso, Laura Gastaldi, Walter Rapp, Stefan Lindinger, Yves Vanlandewijck, Sami Äyrämö and Vesa Linnamo
In cross-country sit-skiing, the trunk plays a crucial role in propulsion generation and balance maintenance. Trunk stability is evaluated by automatic responses to unpredictable perturbations; however, electromyography is challenging. The aim of this study was to identify a measure to group sit-skiers according to their ability to control the trunk. Seated in their competitive sit-ski, 10 male and 5 female Paralympic sit-skiers received 6 forward and 6 backward unpredictable perturbations in random order. k-means clustered trunk position at rest, delay to invert the trunk motion, and trunk range of motion significantly into 2 groups. In conclusion, unpredictable perturbations might quantify trunk impairment and may become an important tool in the development of an evidence-based classification system for cross-country sit-skiers.
Daniel J. Daly, Laurie A. Malone, David J. Smith, Yves Vanlandewijck and Robert D. Steadward
A video race analysis was conducted at the Atlanta Paralympic Games swimming competition. The purpose was to describe the contribution of clean swimming speed, as well as start, turn, and finish speed, to the total race performance in the four strokes for the men’s 100 m events. Start, turn, and finish times, as well as clean swimming speed during four race sections, were measured on videotapes during the preliminary heats (329 swims). Information on 1996 Olympic Games finalists (N = 16) was also available. In Paralympic swimmers, next to clean swimming speed, both turning and finishing were highly correlated with the end race result. Paralympic swimmers do start, turn, and finish slower than Olympic swimmers but in direct relation to their slower clean swimming speed. The race pattern of these components is not different between Paralympic and Olympic swimmers.
Daniel J. Daly, Stefka K. Djobova, Laurie A. Malone, Yves Vanlandewijck and Robert D. Steadward
A video race analysis was conducted on 100-m freestyle performances of 72 male and 62 female finalists at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Races were won or lost in the second half of each 50-m race lap and differences in speed between swimmers were more related to stroke length than stroke rate. Within-race speed changes were more related to changes in stroke rate. Stroke rate changes were also responsible for speed changes between qualifying heats and finals in the first part of races, while stroke length was responsible for better speed maintenance at the end of races. Results indicate that Paralympic finalists use race speed patterns similar to able-bodied elite swimmers.
Viola C. Altmann, Jacques Van Limbeek, Anne L. Hart and Yves C. Vanlandewijck
A representative sample (N = 302) of the wheelchair rugby population responded to a survey about the classification system based on prioritized items by International Wheelchair Rugby Federation members. Respondents stated, "The classification system is accurate but needs adjustments" (56%), "Any athlete with tetraequivalent impairment should be allowed to compete" (72%), "Athletes with cerebral palsy and other coordination impairments should be classified with a system different than the current one" (75%), and "The maximal value for trunk should be increased from 1.0 to 1.5" (67%). A minority stated, "Wheelchair rugby should only be open to spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions" (36%) and "There should be a 4.0 class" (33%). Results strongly indicated that athletes and stakeholders want adjustments to the classification system in two areas: a focus on evaluation of athletes with impairments other than loss of muscle power caused by spinal cord injury and changes in classification of trunk impairment.