Body Composition: A Necessary Tool in Individuals With Disabilities?

Judy R. Wilson*

Body Composition: A Necessary Tool in Individuals With Disabilities?

The 2016 Summer Olympics, also known as the Games of the 31st Olympiad concluded last month with the 2016 Paralympics set to begin in early September. Advancements in training techniques, clothing and footwear continue to contribute to the establishment of new records at the Summer Olympics. Likewise, advancements have been made for Paralympic athletes in both prosthetics- and wheelchairs. However, a key factor in the performance of all athletes is body composition, but the development of accurate field methods for measuring body composition for disabled athletes lags behind comparable measures for able-bodied athletes.

The most common field testing methods of body composition in individuals with disabilities are body mass index (BMI), skinfolds, and bioelectrical impedance analysis. However, Jones, Legge and Goulding, determined that many individuals with SCI do not appear obese, have a healthy BMI, yet, carry large amounts of fat tissue as determined by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). This finding supports the need to develop reliable field methods of determining FM and FFM in individuals with disabilities.

It measures the impedance to the flow of a low-level electrical current throughout the body. This measurement assumes that the impedance within the tissues will be constant for all body segments. However, SCI-related changes in the lower body, may alter the tissue impedance due to changes in protein and mineral content of the paralyzed extremities. Measurement of the impedance of body segments may provide more accurate information.

Sport Exerc Med Open J. 2016; 2(1): e3-e4. doi: 10.17140/SEMOJ2-e001