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Injury Prevention for Athletes with a Disability

By admin admin | In Education, News | on April 10, 2019

With the recent Invictus and Para-Commonwealth Games in 2018, an ever-growing light has shifted towards viewership of disability sport. Names like Kurt Fearnly, Dylan Alcott, and Brendan Hall have risen to be somewhat household names in the world of Australian para-sport. This focus and augmented popularity at the elite level has aided the promotion of general physical and recreational activity at a population level. An increase in participation rates is set for disability sports across Australia as more opportunities become available for disability sport programs. Many young aspiring athletes will look to push training loads and volumes to reach elite level goals.

Injury Risk

The demands of sport, especially at the elite level are no different for individuals with a disability. Top-end wheelchair rugby athletes train up to twice daily (SMA, 2019) and it is well known that increased sports participation comes with an increased injury risk. For athletes with a disability, injuries can heavily impact aspects of life outside the sport. For example, a wheelchair marathon racer sustains a rotator cuff tear – not only does this impact their training and competition but also their own activities of daily living (ADLs) as they use the shoulder to perform a large percentage of their daily activities such as wheelchair mobility and transfers (Fagher & Lexell ,2014).

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Successful injury prevention is certainly achievable for athletes with a disability. Injury incidence rates align with regular high-level sports, ranging from 2.0 to 4.7 injuries per 1000 hours of participation (SMA, 2019). However, disability sport athletes are often faced with underlying health considerations, posing risk to safe sport participation. This highlights the need for an individualised approach when it comes to exercise interventions.


The increased participation rates within disability sports is set to have a flow on effect towards the elite level. With this comes greater volume and load placed on the individual, opening up the risk for injury. Appropriately delivered strength and conditioning exercise interventions are an effective method towards reducing injury risk, alongside load and volume management.

Are you an individual with a disability looking to commence an exercise program and would like to know more? START Training has NDIS registered Accredited Exercise Physiologistswho would love to help you! Alongside being conveniently located in Newmarket, the clinic gym space and facilities are wheelchair accessible. Feel free to call the clinic on 3356 9119 for more information!

– Sports Medicine Australia. (2019). Sports Health: Parasport for all. Volume 36, Issue 4. Retrieved on 8 April, 2019 from https://members.sma.org.au/MemberPortal/sma-membership/mp/ContentPage/ContentPage?page=3
– Fagher, K., Lexell, J. (2014). Sports-related injuries in athletes with a disabilities. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 24, E320-e331.

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