The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) defines para-athletes as anyone whose impairment impacts their sports participation. Athletes must meet the minimum disability criteria and be classified according to the impact of their disability to participate in the Paralympic Games. Sport for athletes with an impairment has existed for more than 100 years, and the first sport clubs for the deaf were already in existence in 1888 in Berlin.
It was not until after World War II however, that it was widely introduced. The purpose of it at that time was to assist the large number of war veterans and civilians who had been injured during wartime.
In 1944, at the request of the British Government, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann opened a spinal injuries centre at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Great Britain, and in time, rehabilitation sport evolved to recreational sport and then to competitive sport.