Canadian researcher works to make paralympic games safer

August 23, 2012, Canada Foundation for Innovation

In an effort to gain a competitive edge, some athletes at the Paralympic Games have taken to a risky and banned form of performance enhancement.

While not as widely publicized as during the , performance enhancement is an issue among disabled who compete in the Paralympics. However, the practice of performance enhancement is often taken to extremes by disabled athletes who are trying to give themselves a competitive edge.

Many athletes who participate in the Paralympics have that limit their ability to regulate their heart rate and blood pressure. For top-level athletes, this can be a huge competitive disadvantage. An increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure gives athletes the energy and they need to compete in strenuous sports. Some athletes go to extreme lengths to spike their blood pressure ahead of a competition – going so far as to break a toe or hold their urine. Known as "Paralympic boosting," this is a dangerous practice that can lead to , stroke, even death.

"As a clinician, I can understand the motivation for athletes to boost their blood pressure. They are suffering from a condition that has a real effect on their ability to compete." said Dr. Krassioukov, a clinician and leading researcher on injuries at the University of British Columbia (UBC) who is working with Paralympic officials to educate athletes about the risks involved in this practice.

Dr. Krassioukov, who has received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, has been asked by the International Paralympic Committee to find a process for assessing and classifying athletes based on their – ensuring that they compete on a level playing field and making the need to boost their irrelevant. He says the end goal is to establish fair competition by ensuring that athletes are competing against people who have the same ability and level of function.

The cardiovascular classification system that Dr. Krassioukov is working on would group disabled athletes in ways similar to weight classes for boxers. Dr. Krassioukov began his research in this area in 2008 with Paralympic athletes competing in Beijing, continued it at the 2010 Vancouver Games, and is now headed to London to present his findings, as well as monitor and educate athletes on the dangers of Paralympic boosting.

Dr. Krassioukov conducts research into spinal cord issues at ICORD, a leading health research centre that is supported by the UBC Faculty of Medicine and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

Explore further: The challenges and rewards of Paralympic medicine

Related Stories

The challenges and rewards of Paralympic medicine

July 5, 2012
In the Lancet paper, "Paralympic medicine," Nick Webborn of the British Paralympic Association and Peter Van de Vliet of the International Paralympic Committee Medical and Scientific Department, outline some of the issues ...

New research re-introduces athletes with learning difficulties into the Paralympic Games

August 22, 2012
As a result of extensive research and a robust new classification system conducted by academics at Canterbury Christ Church University, athletes are now eligible to compete again in the London 2012 Paralympics.

Reverse inclusion and the question of disability

January 17, 2012
Wheelchair basketball: It's a fast, skillful game, dazzling to watch, gruelling to play. It's also a sport that in Canada has become one of the most inclusive, welcoming athletes with disability and able-bodied athletes alike ...

Newly recognized feature of athlete's heart found to be more prevalent in black male athletes

April 19, 2012
Left-ventricular hyper-trabeculation (LVHT) – a feature of certain cardiomyopathies (chronic disease of the heart muscle) – has been found to be more common in black, male athletes according to a new study presented ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.