Skip to content

Paris-bound Paralympians to benefit from groundbreaking new guidelines on pressure injuries

13 March 2024

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Paralympics Australia have combined to produce world-first guidelines to help para-athletes prevent skin pressure injuries in the crucial five months remaining until the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

The Clinical Practice Guideline: Pressure Injuries and Skin Health in Para Sport is aimed at educating more medical professionals on how to prevent and treat skin pressure injuries.

Pressure injuries result from friction or sustained pressure to the skin or underlying bone and tissue, with the resulting redness, discolouration, or wound potentially having a huge impact not only on the sporting life but personal life of an athlete.

AIS Chief Medical Officer Dr David Hughes AM said the work is an important milestone for para-sport and para-athletes in Australia.

“This is the first time this information has been collated for sport,” Dr Hughes said.

“Its important more medical practitioners are aware of the impact of skin pressure injuries, which can have a profound impact on all aspects of an athlete's life. As well as having a negative effect on the ability to work, study and enjoy a normal home life, these injuries result in a loss of training availability and can ultimately derail an athlete’s competition preparation and performance.

“These guidelines provide athletes, coaches, healthcare practitioners and other support personnel with clear, evidence-based information and guidance on the prevention and management of pressure injuries.”

Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Paralympics 2024 Paris team Dr Steve Reid said: “Paralympics Australia is proud to partner with the AIS in the development of these clinical practice guidelines on skin health and pressure injuries in para-sport.”

“The primary document will provide best practice clinical guidance on the prevention and management of pressure injures and general skin health in para-athletes, for healthcare practitioners such as doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists, that work and travel with para-athletes and teams.”

Two-time Paralympic gold medallist and T63 long jump world record holder Vanessa Low welcomed the guidelines, knowing first-hand how pressure injuries can derail both an athlete’s personal and professional life.

Low mid-jump.
Two-time Paralympic gold medallist and T63 long jump world record holder Vanessa Low welcomed the guidelines.

“Pressure injuries are always there and it's all about how we manage them,” Low said.

“There was a big period where I missed out on a block of three months because an injury got so bad that I wasn't able to wear my legs.

“That obviously had a massive impact on my training and preparation, but also my personal life. Not being able to walk and wear my prosthetics was quite horrible.”

Low said knowing that more medical practitioners will have a knowledge of how to prevent and how to treat pressure injuries as well as having a one-stop online hub for information will have a huge impact on para-athletes around the country.

“Putting these resources together and the expertise of these practitioners that have had a chance to work with a para-athlete before on solutions that can help in the short and long term is quite important because you don't have to start off scratch.

“I really hope a lot of people really start thinking about all these little things that can really turn into bigger things in the lead up to Paris, because missing out on training now is definitely going to have more of an impact than any other year.

“We want to make sure that we do what we can to prevent those times away from training and our time away from the things that we love doing.”

Return to top