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 partial or normal trunk function (fair to normal sitting balance). Can produce forceful wheelchair propulsion strokes. E.g. Low level paraplegia, double above the knee amputations."  The International Paralympic Committee defined this as: "These athletes will have normal arm muscle power with a range of trunk muscle power extending from partial trunk control to normal trunk control. Athletes who compete in this group may have significant leg muscle power. These athletes have reasonable to normal trunk control which allows them to hold their trunk down when the propulsion force is applied to the push rim. Usually do not interrupt the pushing cycle to adjust the compensator. Can shift direction of the chair by sitting up and applying a trunk rotational force to the chair. Equivalent activity limitation to person with complete cord injury at cord level T8-S4." 
Wheelchair athletes who wish to compete in para-athletics competition must first undergo a classification assessment. During this, they both undergo a medical assessment of muscle strength, range of movement or amputations; they then demonstrate their athletics skills, such as pushing a racing wheelchair and throwing. A determination is then made as to what an 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.
Notable athletics competitors in this class include multiple Paralympic medal winners Chantal Petitclerc (CAN), Kurt Fearnley (AUS), David Weir (GBR) and Tatyana McFadden (USA). Leo-Pekka Tahti (FIN) is the current world record holder in Men's T54 100m and has won four Paralympic gold medals in this class.
- Para-athletics classification
- Athletics at the Summer Paralympics
- Athletics at the 2008 Summer Paralympics – Men's 100 metres T54
- "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". Sydney, Australia. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- Tweedy, Sean (16 July 2010). "Research Report - IPC Athletics Classification Project for Physical Impairments". Queensland, Australia: International Paralympic Committee. p. 36. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "CLASSIFICATION Information for Athletes". Sydney Australia: Australian Paralympic Committee. 2 July 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2011.