Athletes with Physical Disabilities

Amputee Athletes

An amputee is a person who is missing all or part of a limb (arm or leg). Not all amputees are alike. Some athletes were born without a limb or parts of limbs. Others have lost limbs or parts of limbs through illnesses such as cancer or diabetes, or as a result of an accident. Amputations can affect an individual’s balance and ability to move. In order to help improve an individual’s movement, some athletes wear prostheses. A prosthesis is an artificial device that replaces a missing body part. 

Athletes with Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord or back injuries may result in paralysis, which can affect movement of the lower body and all or part of the trunk muscles. The degree of a disability from a spinal cord injury depends on where the injury happened along the spinal cord. In general, the higher the injury occurs on the spine, the less function there is afterward because more muscles are affected.

Athletes with Cerebral PalsyCerebral Palsy (CP) is a condition that damages the areas of the brain that control movement and body posture. This damage can occur before, during and after birth due to a delay in oxygen getting to the brain. The disability may have no visible signs, or it may cause lack of control of facial and limb movements and speech difficulties.

Les Autres

This impairment classification encompasses individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Polio and Spina Bifida. It also includes a number of other disabilities that do not fall into any of the more specific classifications. Below you will find information some about the disabilities in this category.

  • Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable condition that affects the brain or spinal cord or both, causing muscular weakness, loss of coordination and speech and visual problems.
  • Muscular Dystrophy is a progressive genetic condition characterized by progressive muscular weakness and shrinking of the muscle fibres. Some people with Muscular Dystrophy may experience paralysis (the inability to move part of the body) because of the gradual weakening of arm, shoulder and leg muscles.
  • Poliomyelitis (Polio) is a viral infection of the motor cells in the spinal cord that leads to deformation, muscular paralysis or weakening of the muscles. The severity of the infection determines the extent of the damage and paralysis.
  • Spina Bifida is a developmental buckling of the spine in which one or more of the vertebrae fail to completely close during early development. Vertebrae are the series of bones that make up your spine. This leaves an opening in the spine that leads to nerve damage and can affect muscle function and sensation to varying degrees.