The EIS and Paralympic Sports
The EIS and Paralympic Sports
WHO we are, WHAT we do and HOW we do it
“The fact that we now have disabled athletes with a clear understanding of a performance environment and what being World Class really means, is an understated legacy achievement for the EIS.”
Matt Hammond, Performance Director, Great Britain Boccia Federations
The EIS delivers a range of performance impacting sport science and sport medicine services to 15 Paralympic sports (and 21 Olympic sports).
It has been increasingly working with Paralympic sports since 2006 and over time has developed a world-leading way-of-working that enables EIS practitioners to take an individualised approach to dealing with the specific challenges faced by disabled athletes and provide them with a service that helps to improve performance in just the same way as they work with non-disabled athletes.
EIS practitioners work in multi-disciplinary teams to provide a holistic service that supports athletes and coaches over the four years of the Paralympic cycle and at the Games itself where 29 EIS employees will be will be supporting ParalympicsGB in variety of performance improvement roles.
In the same way that it works with non-disabled athletes, the EIS provides a range of services to elite Paralympic athletes that enable them to optimise training and practice; assists athletes to achieve peak performance at major tournaments, enables athletes and coaches to prevent, reduce and manage injuries; helps athletes and coaches to manage pressure and stress; and deploys performance enhancing technology, insight and analysis to enable athletes to develop strategies and tactics for competition.
In many cases, the nature of support and the way in which it is delivered to Paralympic athletes is no different to that provided to non-disabled athletes. The primary focus is to support the athlete and coach to deliver peak performance when it matters and the key to this is an understanding of how each individual athlete’s disability impacts on their training and subsequent performance.
In some cases this is of little significance but in others is can be a major factor, particularly where physiological or neurological functions are impaired. For example a spinal cord injury can result in disruption of the automatic nervous system, which means that along with paralysis, these individuals may has also have impaired cardiovascular, respiratory and thermoregulatory responses to exercise. Support to these athletes is tailored to their individual needs.
This approach to working in integrated teams combined with the EIS’s ability to provide performance improvement services that are individualised to reflect the specific impairments faced by some athletes place it at the forefront of world thinking in the delivery of sport science and sport medicine to Paralympians.
- Boccia: A Physiotherapist working with the Paralympic sport, Boccia, has developed a classification system which reflects the athlete’s impairments and functional abilities and used this to develop a series of bespoke seating systems and wheelchairs. Postural control and maintaining the best playing position are critical to success in Boccia and the new seating systems have a range of specific features that help to optimise stability and provide a steady and secure platform from which the athletes can throw or deliver the ball via a ramp device. These include solid tyres rather than pneumatic, limited adjustable parts restricting areas where ‘give’ can occur, a lack of ‘tilt and space’ and ‘risers’ which everyday chairs use to add movement to the frame.
- Disability Swimming: An EIS Physiologist that works with the swimmers is leading a project to develop bespoke compression garments to aid blood flow and recovery in Paralympic athletes.
The majority of EIS practitioners work with both Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the range of services provided to Paralympic sports covers all of the EIS’s areas of practice and includes: Sport Medicine, Physiology, Physiotherapy and Soft Tissue Therapy, Strength and Conditioning, Performance Nutrition, Performance Psychology, Performance Analysis, Biomechanics and Performance Lifestyle.
Practitioners work with athletes on a daily basis at a number of high performance facilities across the country and travel the world with coaches and athletes to provide sport science and sport medicine support at training camps and competitions.
The majority of Paralympic sports are fully engaged with the EIS and utilise a variety of sports science and sports medicine services as part of an integrated programme. In 2008, EIS practitioners worked with 16 of the 17 sports (94%) represented by ParalympicsGB at the Beijing Olympics.
The team behind Paralympics GB
The EIS works with 15 of the 20 sports that will be represented by ParalympicsGB in London and delivering continuity of care and ensuring the athletes are supported by sport science and sport medicine experts that are familiar with them will be critical to success at the 2012 Games where 29 EIS employees will be supporting ParalympicsGB.
- 18 EIS employees will work directly with the sports at the Paralympics, either as fully accredited team members or travelling into the Olympic Village on a day pass to work with the athletes
- 11 EIS employees will work directly with the British Paralympic Association (BPA) at the Games, either as accredited team members or by providing services in the Village or at ParalympicsGB House
- The breakdown of practitioners that will work at the Paralympics is made up of:
o 11 Physiotherapists or Soft Tissue Therapists
o 2 Doctors
o 3 Psychologists
o 2 Physiologist
o 1 Nutritionist
o 3 Performance Analysts or Bio-Mechanists
o 2 Performance Lifestyle Advisors
o 5 practitioners working for sports in a general performance management capacity