By Duncan Mackay

Dr Rory CooperMarch 30 - American Dr Rory Cooper has been elected as the recipient of the Paralympic Scientific Award.

The award is given by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to an academic researcher for his or her contributions to research in the field of sports for persons with an impairment, and serves to promote and encourage further study in this area.

Cooper is set to receive the honour at the VISTA2013 Conference in Bonn, which is due to take place from May 1 to 4.

Cooper is the founding director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh and has contributed to the Paralympic Movement as an athlete, coach, event organiser and sport scientist.

The US Army veteran was a bronze medallist in the wheelchair racing relay at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games and is known for his involvement in the Wounded Warrior Project and the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

"It's just an honour to be recognised by the IPC, which is an organisation I hold at high esteem. It has had such a significant impact on my personal life as well as professional life," said Cooper.

He has worked significantly to create and evaluate new sports technologies, advancing equipment used in wheelchair racing, handcycling, wheelchair tennis and seated throwing events.

Dr Rory Cooper on Wheaties boxDr Rory Cooper featured on a Cheerios box in 2009, along with several other athletes who competed in the 28th National Veterans Wheelchair Games

"What I get a pleasure out of is training people with an impairment around the world on how to become scientists," he said.

"That multiplies what I can do as an individual in the field.

"I've been collaborating with countries around the world to bring that technology to places like Mexico and India as well as places like Europe and the United States."

Lucas van der Woude, Professor at the Centre of Movement Sciences at the University of Groningen's Medical Centre in the Netherlands, won the last edition of the award in September 2011 for his work on the restoration of mobility during the rehabilitation of patients with spinal-cord injuries.

Cooper's research has appeared in more than 270 scientific publications, 1,000 abstracts, 100 magazines and five books.

He also holds five US patents for wheelchair adaptations to optimise propulsion in daily living.

Two of his main aims, he said, have been to help achieve equity in Paralympic competition as well as to increase participation in para-sport and maximise an athlete's potential.

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