Technical developments

During the last few decades technical developments have been central in relation to many sports and disability groups.

Wheelchairs for road-racing, track and field events, wheelchair basketball (Fig. 3.5.8) and wheelchair rugby are all different and made for their particular purpose. Through years of trials and modifications racing wheelchairs have evolved with the use of basic vehicle mechanics and technical innovations implemented in wheelchair designs. Ergonomics have led to improved fitting of the individual wheelchair (Fig. 3.5.9). Today further developments include advanced engineering and materials, computer simulations and wind tunnel testing [60]. Differences in push rim and wheel diameter, etc. are of importance for the propul-

Fig. 3.5.8 Wheelchair basketball. Notice the oblique position of the wheels, which prevent the athletes' fingers being trapped when the chairs come close to each other.

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Fig. 3.5.9 Wheelchair dance, with one wheelchair athlete and one ambulant athlete. It is currently being negotiated for this discipline to be on the Paralympic Winter sports program.

Fig. 3.5.9 Wheelchair dance, with one wheelchair athlete and one ambulant athlete. It is currently being negotiated for this discipline to be on the Paralympic Winter sports program.

sion kinematics. These changes in, for example, road-racing wheelchairs are also a part for the explanation of the development in performance in the wheelchair marathon. The first appearance of wheelchair athletes in the 1977 Boston Marathon was with a finishing time of 2 h 45 min, but since then wheeling marathon racers have been repeatedly below i h 30min.

Prostheses for amputee athletes have likewise developed considerably over the years. An investigation was even able to conclude that prosthetic limb kinematics in transtibial amputee athletes were similar to those for the sound limb, and individuals achieved an 'up-on-the-toes' gait typical of able-bodied sprinting

[6i]. Indeed, currently the 100-m able-bodied world record is 9.83 s, but the same distance has been run in ii .31 s by a below-knee amputee and, for further comparison, in i0.72 s by an athlete with a shoulder disarticulation.

Buoyant artificial limbs are also available to allow people who have an amputation to take part in water sport. An artificial limb that is buoyant, however, can interfere with the function of a life jacket and prevent a person who is floating face down in water from turning over [62].

Among other sports equipment which has developed considerably over the years special skis and sledges should be mentioned; these include water-ski seating systems and much more.

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