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 good shoulder, elbow and wrist function. Limited finger movements. No leg or trunk function. " The Australian Paralympic Committee defines this classification as being for people with "Damage to spinal cord in the higher parts of the back. Substantially impaired or no trunk function; minimal or no leg function. Pushing power comes from elbow extensions, and appears close to normal except for use of modified gloves to compensate for grip."  The International Paralympic Committee defined this as: "These athletes will usually have normal shoulder, elbow and wrist muscle power, poor to normal muscle of the finger flexors and extensors with there being wasting of the intrinsic muscles of the hands. Use shoulders, elbows and wrist for propulsion. Usually have no trunk function. May use gloving techniques similar to the next two classes. Equivalent activity limitation to person with complete cord injury at cord level C7-8" 
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 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.
Update July 2013: Marieke Vervoort (Belgium) is now world record holder in the 400m event (1:04.87).
- Para-athletics classification
- Athletics at the Summer Paralympics
- Athletics at the 2008 Summer Paralympics – Men's 100 metres T52
- "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.
- "London 2012 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Men's 200 m T52". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 17 Jan 2013.
- "London 2012 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Men's 400 m T52". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 17 Jan 2013.
- "London 2012 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Men's 800 m T52". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 17 Jan 2013.
- "London 2012 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Women's 100 m T52". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 17 Jan 2013.
- "London 2012 Paralympic Games - Athletics - Women's 200 m T52". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 17 Jan 2013.
- "IPC Athletics World Records". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 19 November 2011.