BACKGROUND: Para athletes experience high prevalence and incidence of health problems related to sport. Despite this, there are few longitudinal studies.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the characteristics, prevalence, incidence, and severity of health problems in para athletes from one of the Brazilian Paralympic Reference Centers during a sports season and to compare the prevalence of health problems between para athletics, para powerlifting, and para swimming.
METHODS: This prospective pilot study was conducted from October 2019 to March 2020. The Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center Questionnaire on Health Problems was used to record injuries and illnesses every week for 24 weeks. The characteristics, prevalence, incidence, and severity of health problems were described for each modality. The prevalence of health problems was compared among the three sport modalities.
RESULTS: Thirty-five para athletes participated. Most of the injuries occurred in the shoulder, and most illnesses caused respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms. The average weekly prevalence and the incidence rate of health problems were 40.6% (95% CI 17.0-64.4) and 12.7 (95% CI 9.6-15.9) per 1000 athlete hours, respectively. Para powerlifting had the highest prevalence of all and substantial health problems; para swimming had the lowest prevalence of injuries; and para athletics had the lowest prevalence of illnesses.
CONCLUSIONS: This group of Brazilian para athletes showed a high prevalence and incidence of health problems throughout the season. Para athletics, para powerlifting, and para swimming each had a different prevalence of injuries and illnesses.