Performance of Kenyan Athletes With Physical Impairments on Classification Activity Limitation Tests For Running Events and Related Influencing Contextual Factors
Numerous benefits have been associated with participation in sports by persons with a disability. Classification in Paralympic sport is aimed at increasing participation by reducing the impact that impairment has on the outcome of competition. Eligible impairments are classified according to how much activity limitation they cause in a sport. The observed activity limitation also gives an indication of an athlete‟s level of training in that sport. In an effort towards evidence-based classification research, an activity limitation test battery was developed by an expert panel for use in Paralympic classification for running events. It was found valid and reliable on a non-disabled sample. Besides activity limitation evaluation, other contextual factors may influence how an athlete with an impairment participates in sport activities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the reliability and predictive validity of five impairment specific tests of activity limitation in participants who have impaired coordination (hypertonia, ataxia, and athetosis), impaired range of movement and impaired muscle power. In addition, personal and environmental factors that could influence performance and participation in sport were also investigated. The study used a descriptive research design. 67 male and female athletes who had been purposively sampled participated in the study. The athletes performed physical activities in an activity limitation test battery and filled a questionnaire related to the contextual factors. Descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation, frequencies and percentages) were used to summarize the subjects‟ characteristics. Reliability was evaluated using Intraclass Correlation (ICC). Independent t-tests were used to compare means of two independent groups with continuous data (gender). One-Way ANOVA was used to test differences where there were more than two means (age groups). To evaluate the strength of association between the criterion activity and the 5 supplementary tests, Pearson Product- Moment correlations was computed. Predictive validity of the 5 tests were evaluated for the running activity. Multiple regressions was done to examine which combination of tests would explain the most variance in performance on the criterion activity. Significance was set at p< 0.05. Results indicated that there were significant difference between the male and female mean scores in 30 m sprint (female, t(64) = -2.86, p = 0.006), standing broad jump (male, t (67) = 3.48, p = 0.001), 4 bounds for distance (male, t(66) = 3.99, p = 0.001) and 10 m speed skip with female scoring higher (t(50) = -3.53, p = 0.001). There was an inverse correlation between the criterion activity and performing the 4 bounds, r = -.641 and Broad jumps, r = -.581 as well as a moderate positive (direct) association with the speed skip, r = .467. Standing broad jump/H, 4 bounds for distance/H and 10 m speed skip statistically significantly predicted the performance measure of the 30 m sprint, F (3, 46) = 10.153, p < .05. Both male and female participants were differently intrinsically motivated. The male (mean=4.38, SD= .61) participated to experience stimulation while the female (mean=4.30, SD= .66), engaged to learn more of the sports available to them. 52.2% of the athletes did not have access to other sport training facilities while 82.6% did not have appropriate equipment to facilitate serious training in their sport. It can be concluded that some of the variables in the supplementary tests in the Activity Limitation Battery can be validly employed in decision making during the classification process. However, research using more competitive athletes is recommended. The findings on contextual factors can be used by disability sports associations to inform and enhance the pedagogical and training practices in athletes with physical impairments. The Ministry of Sports should formulate policies to promote and further enhance inclusive participation in sport and physical activity by individuals with disabilities in Kenya.