Wheelchair propulsion is a major cause of upper limb pain and injuries for manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Few studies have investigated wheelchair turning biomechanics on natural ground surfaces. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between tangential push force and linear velocity of the wheelchair during the turning portions of propulsion. Using an instrumented handrim, velocity and push force data were recorded for 25 subjects while they propel their own wheelchairs on a concrete floor along a figure-eight-shaped course at a maximum velocity. The braking force (1.03 N) of the inside wheel while turning was the largest of all other push forces (p<0.05). Larger changes in squared velocity while turning were significantly correlated with higher propulsive and braking forces used at the pre-turning, turning, and post-turning phases (p<0.05). Subjects with less change of velocity while turning needed less braking force to maneuver themselves successfully and safely around the turns. Considering the magnitude and direction of tangential force applied to the wheel, it seems that there are higher risks of injury and instability for upper limb joints when braking the inside wheel to turn. The results provide insight into wheelchair setup and mobility skills training for wheelchair users.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering