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Cluster analysis of novel isometric strength measures produces a valid and evidence-based classification structure for wheelchair track racing
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Faculty of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Lakeshore Foundation, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
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2017 (English)In: British Journal of Sports Medicine, ISSN 0306-3674, E-ISSN 1473-0480, article id 097558Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: The Para athletics wheelchair-racing classification system employs best practice to ensure that classes comprise athletes whose impairments cause a comparable degree of activity limitation. However, decision-making is largely subjective and scientific evidence which reduces this subjectivity is required.

AIM: To evaluate whether isometric strength tests were valid for the purposes of classifying wheelchair racers and whether cluster analysis of the strength measures produced a valid classification structure.

METHODS: Thirty-two international level, male wheelchair racers from classes T51-54 completed six isometric strength tests evaluating elbow extensors, shoulder flexors, trunk flexors and forearm pronators and two wheelchair performance tests-Top-Speed (0-15 m) and Top-Speed (absolute). Strength tests significantly correlated with wheelchair performance were included in a cluster analysis and the validity of the resulting clusters was assessed.

RESULTS: All six strength tests correlated with performance (r=0.54-0.88). Cluster analysis yielded four clusters with reasonable overall structure (mean silhouette coefficient=0.58) and large intercluster strength differences. Six athletes (19%) were allocated to clusters that did not align with their current class. While the mean wheelchair racing performance of the resulting clusters was unequivocally hierarchical, the mean performance of current classes was not, with no difference between current classes T53 and T54.

CONCLUSIONS: Cluster analysis of isometric strength tests produced classes comprising athletes who experienced a similar degree of activity limitation. The strength tests reported can provide the basis for a new, more transparent, less subjective wheelchair racing classification system, pending replication of these findings in a larger, representative sample. This paper also provides guidance for development of evidence-based systems in other Para sports.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. article id 097558
Keywords [en]
athletics, disability, elite performance, strength, wheelchair
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-25732DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097558PubMedID: 29175826OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-25732DiVA, id: diva2:1162759
Available from: 2017-12-05 Created: 2017-12-05 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved

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Blomqvist, Sven

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