Information about a piece of news titled Top-level Para athletes lost on average 33 days a year from sport due to health problems, 19 days due to illnesses
Top-level Para athletes lost on average 33 days a year from sport due to health problems, 19 days due to illnesses
10 years of observations, 5 Paralympic Games cycles, more than 6.000 weekly injury and illness reports, more than 800 health problems - prevailing high illness burden.
With our large data set, we wanted describe the illness and injury pattern of Norwegian Para athletes over 5 consecutive Paralympic Summer and Winter Games cycles, and to identify which health problems should be targeted in risk management plans with respect to impairment types.
More than 6.000 weekly reports, more than 840 health problems
We monitored athletes from 12 to 18 months prior to each Game using a weekly online questionnaire (OSTRC-H2). We asked them to report all health problems they had experienced in the preceding 7 days, irrespective of their consequences on their sports participation or performance and whether they had sought medical attention.
Between 2011 and 2020, 94 candidate athletes were included in this monitoring program and prepared to represent Norway; 16 sports, 94% of athletes had physical impairments (brain or spinal cord disorders, neuromuscular disorders, amputee/limb deficiency), and 66 (71%) were finally selected for multiple Paralympic Games.
Athletes lost more than 1 months each year due to health problems
At any given time during the 5 observation cycles, nearly 2 out of 5 elite Norwegian Para athletes reported at least one health problem each week. Each of the 94 top-level Para athletes lost on average 33 days a year from sport due to health problems, 19 days due to illnesses. Respiratory tract and other infections, and gastrointestinal problems were by far most burdensome health problems for athletes with neurological impairments. Irrespective of impairment type, injuries to the shoulder, elbow and lumbosacral regions represented the greatest health burden.
Our findings can help guide the allocation of clinical resources, which should include a broad network of medical specialists, dieticians and physiotherapists, to meet the health challenges in Para athletes.