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Medicina dello Sport 2003 December;56(4):277-86


language: Italian

Are sports practiced by athletes with locomotor disabilities effective in determining health benefits?

Bernardi M. 1, 2, 3, Di Giacinto B. 2, Pisicchio C. 2, Quattrini F. M. 2

1 Dipartimento di Fisiologia Umana e Farmacologia, Università di Roma «La Sapienza», Roma; 2 Scuola di Specializzazione in Medicina dello Sport, Università di Roma «La Sapienza», Roma; 3 Federazione Italiana Sport Disabili CONI, Roma


Aim. To study cardiovascular benefits induced by sports practiced by athletes with different locomotor disabilities (LDA), while using only upper limbs, the hypothesis that LDA sports are able to determine an increase of oxygen consumption peak (V.O2peak), thus overcoming the typical V.O2peak values due to residual motor functionality, has been tested.
Methods. In laboratory, V.O2peak and residual motor functionality (from class 1 to 4) was assessed in 117 LDA competing in numerous paralympic sports such as: shooting (S), archery (A), table tennis (TT), wheelchair tennis (WCT), fencing (F), field events (WCFE), alpine sitting skiing (AsS), swimming (S), wheelchair basket (WCB), nordic sitting skiing (NsS) and 10000 meter wheelchair track events (WCTE). In 30 athletes, while practicing WCT, F, WCB, WCTE and NsS, oxygen consumption was measured also on court (cV.O2). Based on cV.O2 sports groups (SG) with similar characteristics were formed.
Results. Court V.O2 was equal to 1.55±0.21 l . min-1 in WCT and F, 1.75±0.25 in WCB and 2.47±0.49 in NsS and WCTE. Court V.O2 and V.O2peak correlated to each other and exercise intensity ranged between 69% V.O2peak (WCTE, F, WCT, WCB) and 76% V.O2peak (NsS). V.O2peak values equal to 26.6±4.8 ml . kg-1 . min-1; but not different from values of sedentary LD were found in S, TT and A assigned to SG1. LDA practicing NsS and WCTE, sports assigned to SG4 were showed the highest values (48±9 ml . kg-1 . min-1). Intermediate V.O2peak values (17% higher than SG1) were found in LDA practicing WCT, F and WCFE (SG2) and in LDA (32% higher than SG1) of AsS, S and WCB (SG3). This V.O2peak increase was not present throughout the 4 functional-classes: only class1 had V.O2peak different from class 3 and class 4.
Conclusion. Sports in fact induce cardiovascular adaptations, being V.O2peak in LDA associated with sport practice rather than functional classification.

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