Wheelchair Basketball Injuries

By Burnham, Robert S.; Higgins, Joe et al. | Palaestra, Winter 1994 | Go to article overview

Wheelchair Basketball Injuries


Burnham, Robert S., Higgins, Joe, Steadward, Robert D., Palaestra


Wheelchair basketball is rapidly increasing in popularity and competitiveness. Besides being an enjoyable activity, it has been found to be an adequate exercise stimulus to enhance and maintain cardiovascular fitness (Burke, Auchinachie, Hayden, & Loftin, 1985). Participation in the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball League has doubled since 1986 with over 1100 athletes presently involved (R. McCellan, personal communication). Basketball is enjoyed by athletes with various physical disabilities, and in Canada there has also been an increase in participation by able-bodied individuals. Paralleling the rise in wheelchair basketball participation and skill level is the competitive season duration, number and frequency of competitions. The resultant increased cumulative musculoskeletal stress may contribute to injury occurrence.

Wheelchair basketball has been identified as a high injury risk activity in comparison to other wheelchair sports (Curtis, & Dillon, 1985; McCormack, Reid, Steadward & Syrotuik, 1991). Despite this, only one previous study specifically examined wheelchair basketball injuries. Hoeberigs and Verstappen (1984) administered a questionnaire to wheelchair basketball players at the 1980 Paralympics. This was prompted by an unusually high rate of occurrence of shoulder and arm muscle soreness at these games. Investigators found that upper extremity muscle soreness was positively correlated with the number of basketball games played. It was suggested that the unusually soft playing surface may have contributed to this development. Prevalence and location of other injuries were not examined in this study. Burnham, Newell and Steadward (1991) profiled injuries and medical conditions incurred by 151 elite athletes (23 of whom were wheelchair basketball players) representing Canada at the 1988 Seoul Paralympics. Upper extremity injuries predominated. Shoulder rotator cuff impingement syndrome was the most common clinical diagnosis. The most recent survey was performed by Ferrara, Buckley, McCann, Limbird, Powell & Rob (1992) who used a cross disability questionnaire to explore training and injury patterns among athletes with physical disabilities. Eighty-seven of the 426 athletes surveyed were wheelchair basketball players. Among this subgroup, upper extremity injuries were twice as common as those of the lower extremities, spine and head. Again, shoulder injuries were found to be the most Common.

In view of the paucity of information profiling wheelchair basketball injuries and possible etiological factors related to their development, the purpose of this study was to: (a) describe the types and severity of injuries sustained by wheelchair basketball players; (b) describe training methods and equipment used by these athletes; and, (c) identify demographic, training and equipment factors associated with the development of injury.

Method

Wheelchair Basketball Questionnaires were circulated among participants of nine different tournaments which took place between January and April, 1990. One of these tournaments was Canadian Provincial, five were Canadian Nationals, and three were international level competitions. Completion of the questionnaire was voluntary. One hundred and sixteen were adequately completed. In the event that an athlete omitted the answer to one of the questions, it was coded as missing data and the computer analysis deleted that case when the missing variable was being used in the analysis. The exact return rate is not known but was estimated at 65%. No attempt was made to profile non-responders.

The model used to investigate possible etiological factors associated with overuse injuries was adapted from that described for evaluating overuse injuries in runners. This model suggested that most injuries occur as a result of one or combinations of training errors, biomechanical realalignments, or equipment problems (James, Bates, & Osterig, 1978; Clement, Taunton, Smart & McNicol, 1981 ). …

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