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Nutritional supplement use by athletes with a disability

With the popularity of disability sport from grassroots to elite level on the rise, further understanding of the dietary practices and supplement use of athletes at all levels is warranted.

This is especially so as the specific needs of each disability can mean there is a greater prevalence of supplement use in disability sport. Research is also urgently needed as the current recommendations (type, frequency and dosage) for supplement use in disability sport are based on data from able-bodied athletes and cannot be directly transferred to athletes with a disability.

Terri Graham-Paulson a former PhD student of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport (supervised by Prof Vicky Tolfrey) undertook an investigation that examined the habits and perceptions of athletes with a physical impairment towards nutritional supplements and in particular their attitudes towards the use of caffeine.

This study formed the foundation of a PhD which then went on to include 4 experimental chapters to provide evidence and practical recommendations for the use of caffeine during upper body exercise, especially by individuals with a spinal cord injury. These have all been published (see below) and an infographic created of the research findings.

This project is a collaboration between Loughborough University and the Swiss Paraplegic Centre.

Research outputs from this project

  1. Nutritional Supplement Habits of Athletes With an Impairment and Their Sources of Information
  2. Case Study: Dose Response of Caffeine on 20-km Handcycling Time Trial Performance in a Paratriathlete
  3. Spinal Cord Injury Level Influences Acute Plasma Caffeine Responses
  4. Improvements in Cycling but Not Handcycling 10 km Time Trial Performance in Habitual Caffeine Users
  5. Improvement of Sprint Performance in Wheelchair Sportsmen With Caffeine Supplementation