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Title: a 32-year-old man has an accident and loses both legs. He uses a manual

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TITLE: A 32-year-old man has an accident and loses both legs. He uses a manual

wheelchair and wants to do sports after he finished rehabilitation. Before his

accident he was an active swimmer and also played different team sports. Which

sport would you recommend and why? Please also describe the basic rules of the


Inactivity represents a current socio-economic issue, which involves both able and disabled people.

Furthermore, it improves the risk of cardiovascular disease manifestations, representing also a high

cost for the public health expenditure.

According to Eurostat data, in 2011 more than a half of people reporting basic activity difficulties in

14 EU countries were inactive, and in 2018 the individuals with disabilities living in EU countries

were almost 80 million, i.e. 16″,7% ca of the total population.

Therefore, enhancing sports participation among people with disabilities plays a relevant role in the

current society also because the psychosocial benefits for these individuals are quite equal to those

experienced by able-bodied people. [2]

Through an in-depth analysis of the case study below, the paper tries to give the basic knowledge

needed to recommend sports to people with disabilities.

The paper starts with a theoretical point of view, explaining the reason to recommend a certain sport

over another and continues by illustrating the specific instance of Mark and clarifying the rules of

the selected sport.

The case study of Mark – Mark is a 32-year-old man who lost both his legs after an accident and

wants to practice sports again after the rehabilitation period.

Sports participation positively impacts on three levels on people with disabilities: physical, social”,


For this reason, the main aspect consists in creating the optimal conditions whereby the participant

can demonstrate a motor development, which occurs when sports skills are acquired; and a psycho-

social growth through the comparison with other people with disabilities.

According to Barrett, the recommendation of a sports program should meet the need of the

determined person and it must vary, by developing social skills and focusing less on


Thus, before recommending a specific sport it is relevant to consider the reasons and interests of the

subject, then it is important to take into consideration skills and aptitudes.

It is positive to try different practices in order to find the most suitable activity for the participant

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and to develop plenty of motor skills, starting to select sports based on conditional, coordinative and

intellectual capabilities; and environmental factors, as physical accessibility to facilities.

In the case study of Mark, the first barrier, which is about motivating the subject to participate in

physical activity or sport, is exceeded because he wants to play sport after finishing the

rehabilitation period. This confirms the results of Kars et. al. survey, which is about the relevance of

practicing sports before the amputation, that seems to be a predetermining factor for amputees to

practice again sports instead of other features as the level of amputation.

Consequently, from a physical and conditional point of view, Mark was an active person, he played

team sports and had a great aerobic capacity because of his swimming history. Furthermore, he had

a great upper body muscles strength and mobility, therefore he is able to play a high-impact sport.

From a psychological and sociological point of view, the preference goes to a team sport over an

individual one, since disabled team sport players demonstrate a higher self-esteem because of the

structure of the team, as being part of a cohesive group leads to a stronger reconstruction of

personal identity and it progressively allows a better integration into the society. This is partly due

to superior autonomy. [5]

As a result, assuming that there are no differences in the interests of Mark and equal sport

accessibility, wheelchair basketball is the sport which has been recommended to him, because it

only requires the use of torso and arms and it is also one of the most popular game, therefore it is

easier to have access to facilities and to play in a team.

Wheelchair basketball was born in 1945 in the USA thanks to the veterans of the Second World

War and it was present at the first Paralympic games in 1960 in Rome.

Currently, there are 105 National Organizations for wheelchair basketball worldwide, and the

number of players is around twenty-five thousand, including non-disabled athletes.

Wheelchair basketball players are classified into different categories based on their functional

impairment: from 1.0 that expresses the most serious activity limitation, to 4.5 sports class which

includes athletes with minor impairment as a foot amputation and no restriction in trunk rotation.

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At the same time, each team on the field may have a maximum of 14 points otherwise, the team will

be penalized with a technical foul.

The rules of wheelchair basketball as the height of the basket, the distance to the foul line and the

three-point line are the same as the running basketball. Indeed, particular attention must be paid to

the wheelchairs because they are considered as part of the player.

The game is played between two teams of five players, each team has 24 seconds to shoot at the

basket or they lose the possession of the ball, while the duration of the game is 40 minutes divided

into four quarters of 10 minutes each.

Another fundamental rule is that a player can push the wheelchair while dribbling the ball but if the

ball is located on the lap of the player, he or she is enabled to push twice before shooting, passing or

bouncing the ball again.

When a player uses his legs to raise in his seat or to gain advantages or touches the ground with the

foot, it is considered foul.

The team who scores the greater number of points wins the game. However, if the score is tied at

the end of the fourth quarter, the game continues with as many overtimes of five minutes duration

each as necessary to break the tie.

Although the benefits of the wheelchair basketball participation, as explained above, it is important

to vary the activity, therefore it is a responsibility of the coach to include different training activities

to stimulate the development of an enhanced number of motor skills, for instance integrating

another sport as a warm-up.

An example is dodgeball, which is a sport played by two opposing teams with the aim to strike the

adversaries with a ball.

The rules of dodgeball are simple: the first team to eliminate all the players of the other team wins;

the wheelchair is considered part of the body of the participant; if the ball hits the head or bounce

on the ground before to hit a player, the player is not removed from the game; an eliminated player

can return on the field if a team member catches the ball thrown by an adversary.

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As a result, dodgeball can help to develop and reinforce wheelchair agility skills and ball skills in

the players besides it represents an amusing practice. [7]

In conclusion, each disabled person should have the possibility to participate in a sports activity and

in front of the possibility to attend it, they should be encouraged to engage their favorite sports

practice since wheelchair sports participants demonstrate a stronger well-being level with lower

tension and depression and higher vigor instead of wheelchair inactive people. [3]

Before recommending a sport is fundamental to understand the psycho-social condition of the

subject, then the sports experiences, after that the focus shifts on interests and reasons and finally it

moves into practice after the suitable sports activity has been chosen.

Regarding the selected sport, it is preferable to give priority to a team sport compared to an

individual one, since team sports show a wider development of social skills and it permits a stronger

social integration.

Wheelchair basketball represents a continuously developing world with a huge number of athletes”,

high exposure and larger accessibility thus constitute a valid sports activity especially for disabled

people in order to expand their motor and social skills.


1) Barrett, U. (2014). Traditional Sports and Games as a Means for Integration of People with


2) Bragaru, M., Dekker, R., Geertzen, J.H.B. et al. (2011), Amputees and Sports. Sports

Medicine. 41. 721-740.

3) Campbell, E. & Jones, G. (1994). Psychological Well-Being in Wheelchair Sport

Participants and Nonparticipants. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly. 11. 404-415.

4) Eurostat.

5) Hamrouni, S., Hassen, S. B., Sofiene, K., Lagha, S., & Alem, J. (2017) Effects of the

Practice of Team Sport or Individual Sport on Perceptual Abilities and on the Self-Esteem in

the Persons with Motor Disability: A Comparative Study. Advances in Physical Education”,

7, 319-331.

6) Kars, C. et al. (2009) ‘Participation in Sports by Lower Limb Amputees in the Province of

Drenthe, the Netherlands’, Prosthetics and Orthotics International, 33(4), pp. 356–367

7) Martin, B. (2019) From small, informal games to full-blown leagues, recreational dodgeball

is a hit for wheelchair athletes, Sports ’N Spokes, 45, 26-31



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