Assessing body composition of athletes

2019-04-26T08:57:01Z (GMT) by Gary Slater Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey
The assessment of body composition has become routine amongst Paralympic athletes, with application in general health screens, talent identification initiatives and routine monitoring of adaptation to training and/or diet. The rationale for assessment and outcome measures of interest plays a key role in ascertaining which body composition assessment technique to use. However, consideration must also be given to the individual athlete and their specific impairment. This may have implications in either the practical administration of the technique and/or the unique physical characteristics of Paralympic athletes which may violate underlying assumptions associated with specific body composition assessment techniques. This chapter discusses the most commonly used techniques to assess body composition of Paralympic athletes, including anthropometrics, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, air displacement plethysmography and bioelectrical impedance analysis. While guidance for body composition assessment amongst athletes with intellectual and visual impairments differs little from that for able-bodied athletes, individuals with spinal cord injuries present unique challenges. Normative body composition data on Paralympic athletes is lacking, ensuring the longitudinal monitoring of changes remains a priority at the individual athlete level.