The impact of impairment on kinematic and kinetic variables in Va’a paddling: towards a sport-specific evidence-based classification system for Para Va’a

Para Va’a is a new Paralympic sport in which athletes with trunk and/or leg impairment compete over 200 m. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of impairment on kinematic and kinetic variables during Va’a ergometer paddling. Ten able-bodied and 44 Para Va’a athletes with impairments affecting: trunk and legs (TL), legs bilaterally (BL) or leg unilaterally (UL) participated. Differences in stroke frequency, mean paddling force and joint angles and correlation of the joint angles with paddling force were examined. Able-bodied demonstrated significantly greater paddling force as well as knee and ankle flexion ranges of movement (ROM) on the top hand paddling side compared to TL, BL and UL. Able-bodied, BL and UL demonstrated greater paddling force and trunk flexion compared to TL, and UL demonstrated larger bottom hand paddling side knee and ankle flexion ROM compared to BL. Significant positive correlations were observed for both male and female athletes between paddling force and all trunk flexion angles and ROM in trunk and pelvis rotation and bottom hand paddling side hip, knee and ankle flexion. The results of this study are important for creating an evidence-based classification system for Para Va’a.