Background Injury and illness surveillance plays an integral role in the prevention of injury and the protection of athletes' health, and there are few epidemiological studies documenting injury and illness in Paralympic athletes.
Objective A prospective cohort study to report incidence and characteristics of injuries and illnesses in Paralympic athletes.
Design Daily injury and illness data were obtained from team physicians and through the London 2012 Medical services medical encounters over the full period of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Setting London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Participants 3 565 athletes (85%) that participated in any of the 20 sports of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Risk factor assessment Data collection was carried out on a daily basis through the Games' Medical Encounter System and through a web-based Injury and Illness survey populated by the team physicians.
Main outcome measurements Incidence rates and incidence proportion have been recorded, as well as sport-specific analysis.
Results The incidence rate of injury during competiton was 12.1/1000 athlete-days, with and incidence proportion of 11.6%. Upper limb injuries (35%), particularly of the shoulder (17%) were most common. Higer injury rates were found in older athletes and certain sports like Football-5-a-side (22.4/1000). Most commonly injured region was the shoulder, followed by wrist/hand, elbow and knee. The incidence rate of illness was 12.8/1000 athlete-days with an incidence proportion of 10.2%. The incidence proportion was highest in the respiratory system, skin, gastrointestinal and genitourinary system. Athletes in the sports of cycling, table tennis, swimming and athletes reported most frequently for medical care.
Conclusions Injury and illness rates in Paralympic Games are similar to those in other events in able-bodied sports, but patterns of injuries and illness are different. Athletes, team physicians, International Federations and event organizers can plan different prevention and intervention strategies based on this information.
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