Physios can make their mark on Paralympic sport

Physiotherapists who want to get involved in elite-level sport are being encouraged to volunteer as classifiers for the Paralympic sport of wheelchair rugby.

Sarah Leighton, senior physiotherapist at the Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Centre in Sheffield, has volunteered as an international classifier for the sport for more than 10 years, attending both the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and the 2012 Paralympics in London.  

London 2012 has triggered great interest in wheelchair rugby, creating a need for more classifiers to support the sport.

Most classifiers are physiotherapists, but doctors, sports medicine specialists and occupational therapists can also apply, depending on their training.

Classifiers aim to ensure fair competition at all levels of disability sport by placing athletes into appropriate categories.

Ms Leighton said: ‘The great thing about the role is you can get involved in high-level sport with elite-level athletes.

‘It’s a very different role to regular physiotherapy, but it’s a really exciting opportunity to use your skills in a different way. It’s quite a commitment, but it’s definitely worth it.’

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An appeal for classifiers for disability target shooting, published in Frontline, 7 November 2012, attracted many CSP members.

Jo Hipkiss, lead physio with Disability Target Shooting Great Britain,  said 30 people had contacted her.

‘I’ve been really impressed with the cross-section of physiotherapists who have got in touch, from
paediatric and disability specialists, through to sports physios,’ she noted.

‘If enough people show an interest we can apply to the International Paralympic Committee to run a classifiers course here in the UK.’

To contact Ms Hipkiss email:

Sally Priestley

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