The classification was created by the International Paralympic Committee and has roots in a 2003 attempt to address "the overall objective to support and co-ordinate the ongoing development of accurate, reliable, consistent and credible sport focused classification systems and their implementation."
This classification is for disability athletics. This classification is one of several classifications for athletes with spinal cord injuries. Similar classifications are T51, T52, T53 and T54 Jane Buckley, writing for the Sporting Wheelies, describes the athletes in this classification as: " Wheelchair athlete with normal arms and hands. No or limited trunk function. No leg function. " The Australian Paralympic Committee defines this classification as being for "Athletes with normal upper limb function, with no abdominal or lower spinal strength (poor sitting balance). Some interference in their ability to perform long and forceful strokes. E.g. high level paraplegia."  The International Paralympic Committee defined this as: "These athletes will have normal arm muscle power with no abdominal or lower spinal muscle activity. Use different techniques to compensate for lack of abdominal musculature including lying horizontal. When the paces quickens in a race, their acceleration is slower than the T54 class. In general when acceleration occurs, the trunk rises off the legs due to a lack of abdominal muscles to hold the trunk down. Usually have to interrupt the pushing cycle to adjust the compensator. Equivalent activity limitation to person with complete cord injury at cord level T1-7." 
Wheelchair athletes who wish to compete in para-athletics competition must first undergo a classification assessment. During this, they both undergo a bench test of muscle strength and demonstrate their skills in athletics, such as pushing a racing wheelchair and throwing. A determination is then made as to what classification an athlete should compete in. Classifications may be Confirmed or Review status. For athletes who do not have access to a full classification panel, Provisional classification is available; this is a temporary Review classification, considered an indication of class only, and generally used only in lower levels of competition.
- Para-athletics classification
- Athletics at the Summer Paralympics
- Athletics at the 2008 Summer Paralympics – Men's 100 metres T53
- "Paralympic Classification Today". International Paralympic Committee. 22 April 2010. p. 3.
- Buckley, Jane (2011). "Understanding Classification: A Guide to the Classification Systems used in Paralympic Sports". Retrieved 12 November 2011.
- "Summer Sports » Athletics". Australia: Australian Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "Classification Information Sheet" (PDF). Sydney, Australia. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- Tweedy, Sean (16 July 2010). "Research Report - IPC Athletics Classification Project for Physical Impairments" (PDF). Queensland, Australiaa: International Paralympic Committee. p. 36. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "CLASSIFICATION Information for Athletes" (PDF). Sydney Australia: Australian Paralympic Committee. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "Australian Athletics Classification Masterlist" (PDF). Sydney, Australia: Australian Paralympic Committee. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "IPC Athletics World Records". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 19 November 2011.