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Wheelchair handball classification system: purpose and validation evidence-based

International Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Journal
Januário N,1,2 Antunes J,3 Vilela de Carvalho J,4 Fernandes S,5 Ferreira D,5  Moreira A6,7

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The aim of the present work is to propose and validate an evidence-based Wheelchair Handball Classification System, that allows its widespread use and the standardization of the classification system in different Wheelchair Handball competitions. The study involved 98 Wheelchair Handball athletes of both sex (87 males, 11 females), aged between 14 and 76 years old (M=40.32; SD= 11.73) with physical impairments. All wheelchair handball players that had participated in the last 3 national championships were invited to participate. We applied the assessment protocol to the participants and athletes’ classification process had three phases: Medical and Physiological functional assessment; Technical assessment (evaluation of specific movements with wheelchair manipulation and Handball skills) and observation in a game situation (with videorecorder). We used a Classification Points Form to permit the assessment of muscle strength and range of movement of upper limbs, trunk, lower limbs, wheelchair manipulation and Handball skills. The manipulation of wheelchair was measured considering the symmetrical movement, acceleration, braking and change direction, using the Sprint 20m – speed test and a Slalom test. The handball skills were assessed, using dribbling, reception, catching the ball from the floor, shoulder and shopped pass and 9m to the goal shot. Data Analysis was done using descriptive statistics and an Ordinal Linear Regression. The dependent variable was the classification class and we considered five independent variables (mean of upper limbs, trunk, lower limbs, wheelchair manipulation and Handball skills). 

Data Analysis was done using IBM SPSS Statistics. The results showed that the proposed model presents a high degree of adjustment and permitted identify determinant variables of performance in that sport and indicates key tasks to optimize classification process. There was consistency in the specific parameters to assign a class to the athlete, according to their functional capacity, associated with the specific neuromotor alterations of each clinical condition.


adapted sport, wheelchair handball, classification, specific classification systems, evidence-based Classification System, physiological functional assessment, wheelchair manipulation, Handball skills