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Prioritising Para athlete care
  1. Jon Patricios1,
  2. Nick Webborn2,3
  1. 1 Wits Sport and Health (WiSH), School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
  2. 2 Centre for Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine, University of Brighton, Brighton, East Sussex, UK
  3. 3 School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jon Patricios, Wits Sport and Health (WiSH), School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa; jpat{at}

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‘Para’ is derived from the Greek word παράλληλα and is a medical prefix meaning ‘alongside’ (cf. parathyroid). Hence, the Paralympics takes place ‘alongside’ the Olympic Games. Since the first Paralympic Games in Rome 1960, the event has grown from 400 athletes from 23 countries to become the third largest sporting event in the world with over 4328 athletes representing 159 countries in Rio 2016.1 Paralympic Games comprise 22 summer sports and 6 winter sports with participation by athletes with a diverse range of physical, sensory and cognitive impairments. However, the science and medicine needed to support these athletes have evolved more slowly. In 1992, there were just nine articles in a PubMed search of the entire literature relating to ‘Disability or Paralympic Sport’. Over the last decade, that same search reveals 590 articles, and 101 in the last year, but the breadth of authorship and expertise is narrow. As clinicians and scientists, how do we enhance care of the Para athlete, the International Paralympic Committee‘s term for an athlete with a disability, and encourage further expansion of the scientific literature to provide an evidence-based approach?

We propose four key interventions, abbreviated to the acronym CARE, that may elevate the standard of sport and exercise medicine for athletes with disability.

Collaboration and integration

With the emergence of Sport and Exercise …

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  • Twitter @jonpatricios, @SportswiseUK

  • Contributors JP and NW conceived the concept of the editorial. JP developed the article framework and drafted the original version of the manuscript after JP and NW had reviewed the appropriate literature, and both contributed relevant content and references. NW edited the manuscript through three iterations. Both authors assessed the reviewers’ comments, drafted the responses and edited the manuscript for resubmission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests JP is an editor of BJSM and receives an honorarium from BMJ.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.