July 22 - A joint study carried out by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the University of Cape Town at the London 2012 Paralympic Games has revealed football five-a-side, powerlifting, goalball, wheelchair fencing and wheelchair rugby as the sports with the highest injury rate.
The report by the IPC Medical Committee and the research unit for exercise and sports medicine at the South African university also indicated that the sports with the least amount of injuries are shooting, rowing and sailing.
The most common injuries during the Games were acute upper-limb injuries of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
The study is the first of its kind to be carried out on elite athletes with an impairment, analysing 3,565 competitors from 160 countries between August 27 and September 9 last year - a period which covered the 11 days of competition at the London 2012 Paralympics and included three days before the Games started.
All but four of the teams taking part in the Games participated in the project which saw representatives of each delegation using an online surveillance system to report athlete injury and illness.
It also found that the rate of injury among Paralympic athletes was 12.7 days per 1,000 athlete days and the rate of illness per 1,000 days was 13.7, adding that illnesses were just as prevalent as injuries during Paralympic Games.
These figures were found to be marginally higher than those for able bodied athletes.
Data from the study, which has been published in May's edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that athletes competing in equestrian, powerlifting, and athletics reported the highest number of illnesses, while shooting, football seven-a-side and football five-a-side reported the least.
The main types of illnesses that occurred related to respiratory, skin, digestive, nervous and genitourinary complaints.
"These studies are of utmost importance as they represent an emphasis of the IPC on injury prevention and protection of the health of the athlete," said Professor Wayne Derman, a member of the IPC Medical Committee.
The IPC plans to conduct a similar study at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games with the cooperation of National Paralympic Committees to ascertain whether similar patterns of injury and illness occur in Paralympic winter sports.
At the last Winter Paralympics, the IPC and Vancouver 2010 hosted a conference aimed at sharing and advancing medical knowledge relating to Paralympic sport, which was attended by around 60 people including team physicians, sport representatives, researchers, and general physicians.
This followed the signing of an agreement in 2009 between the IPC and the International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS) which aims to advance the research, monitoring and treatment of injuries and illnesses of athletes with a disability.
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