Body Composition of Female Wheelchair Athletes

Laura Sutton, Joanne Wallace, Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey, Mark Scott, Thomas Reilly

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (SciVal)


    Wheelchair users undergo changes in body composition as a result of disability. In this study the distribution of bone mineral, lean and fat mass was assessed in highly-trained female wheelchair athletes and a reference group by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The transferability of anthropometric equations commonly used in female groups was examined in order to establish a suitable field method of body composition assessment. The DXA total-body results indicated no difference between groups, but segmental analyses uncovered regional differences. The wheelchair athletes had greater BMD (p=0.088), more lean mass (p<0.001) and a lower percent fat (p=0.050) in their arms. The reverse was true of the legs (p≤0.001). The trunk as a whole did not differ between groups. In general, the anthropometric equations showed a lack of transferability to the wheelchair group and tended to underestimate total percent body fat. Anthropometric measures such as body mass index (BMI) and waist girth showed strong correlations with body fat in the wheelchair group (BMI: r=0.90, p=0.001; waist: r=0.83, p=0.001), but weaker results in the reference group. It is recommended that specific anthropometric equations be developed for use in the absence of a ‘gold standard’ measure of body composition such as DXA.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)259-265
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternational Journal of Sports Medicine
    Issue number4
    Early online date13 Mar 2009
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'Body Composition of Female Wheelchair Athletes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this