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Active Voice: Equipment & Technology Issues in the Paralympics

from By Peter Van de Vliet, Ph.D.

Dr. Peter Van de Vliet is the Medical & Scientific Director for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). He holds a Ph.D. in physiotherapy and motor rehabilitation from Leuven University (Belgium), where he held a post-doctoral research position in adapted physical prior to moving to Bonn, Germany, for the IPC position. His duties at IPC include the coordination of anti-doping and medical services, classification, and sports science developments in the Paralympic movement. Dr. Van de Vliet has authored or co-authored several scientific publications and book chapters on the subject, and coordinates the relationships with internationally leading research bodies in their respective areas.

ACSM and IPC have had a longstanding partnership, including sharing intellectual resources at the summer and winter Olympic Games and conducting scientific symposia at the ACSM Annual Meeting.

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games ran Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia, with the Paralympic Winter Games to follow March 7-16. Throughout this time, SMB will bring readers expert commentaries on sports medicine and performance issues relating to the competitions. In addition, look for a broad array of timely expert source information on such topics as sports medicine care, injury prevention and management, and a host of sports performance issues relevant to the Games on the online ACSM Sports Performance Center.

Equipment rules are becoming more prominent in the Paralympic Movement. As a result, the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Sports Science Committee recently held a scientific forum to exchange current information, research, and expertise that focused entirely on equipment and technology in Paralympic Sports. This conference, "VISTA 2013," was held May 1-4 last year at the Gustav-Stresemann Institute in Bonn, Germany. The conference program describes the complex issues that the IPC must address in determining what equipment may or may not be approved for use by competing Paralympic athletes. What are the implications of a technology for competitive fairness? Is the device a necessity that enables the individual to participate or might it enhance performance in some manner? Does it represent a "grass-roots" approach that could be broadly applied by low-income countries or is it a high-tech, individualized application that only athletes from selected countries might be able to access? more

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