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Para Surfing With Lower-Limb Loss? Read This First

    Limb loss doesn’t mean giving up on the things you love. If you have always enjoyed surfing, you can still return to the waves after amputation surgery. And if you’re considering joining the world of competitive adaptive surfing, this October 2022 study may help you refine your approach.

     This new study can help guide aspiring adaptive surfers refine their techniques.

    Researchers who are experts in occupational therapy recently analyzed para surfing data and how lower-limb amputees’ performance in the sport is judged. In particular, they investigated the surfing performance of adaptive surfers with above- and below-knee limb loss who joined international para surfing competitions.

    The study  

    For this study, the researchers analyzed archived data from classification records, which included demographics, residual limb lengths, judged wave scores, and surfing experiences. They used an independent sample t-test to account for the continuous variables, such as age, duration of competing years, remaining leg length, residual leg length, and prior surfing experience.

    The researchers analyzed surfing performance scores from 2019 to 2020, which were compared using the Mann-Whitney U Test.


    The analysis found that above-knee amputees with longer residual limb lengths and surfers with below-knee limb loss typically surfed with a prosthetic leg standing. Meanwhile, surfers with above-knee limb loss with shorter residual limb lengths typically surfed while kneeling and without a prosthesis.

    The researchers found that para surfers with above-knee limb loss who kneeled or stood performed significantly better than those with below-knee limb loss. This finding is reflected in the judged wave scores in 2019 and 2020. 

    The researchers found no significant relationship between para surfers with above-knee limb loss who kneeled or stood. They also found no significant connection between surfer experience and judged wave scores. 

    If you plan to get into competitive para surfing, you must take the results with a grain of salt. The researchers noted that the data size was too small for confirmatory analysis. But the results can still help current and aspiring competitive para surfers determine the best approach to surfing.