Title

A New Method to Quantify Demand on the Upper Extremity During Manual Wheelchair Propulsion

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-1-2004

Abstract

Objective

To use an ergonomics-based rating that characterizes both demand on, and capacity of, upper-extremity muscle groups during wheelchair propulsion to help identify the muscle groups most at risk for pain or overuse injury in a relatively demanding wheelchair propulsion task.

Design

Case series.

Setting

Biomechanics research laboratory.

Participants

Sixteen manual wheelchair users with complete (American Spinal Injury Association grade A) T6-L2 paraplegia.

Interventions

Not applicable.

Main outcome measures

Internal peak joint moments required by each of the major upper-extremity muscle groups for propelling a wheelchair up a ramp; isometric strength of each of the muscle groups in positions simulating wheelchair propulsion; and wheelchair propulsion strength rating (WPSR) for each muscle group, calculated by normalizing the joint demands to their capacity.

Results

The largest joint moment was for shoulder flexion, at 39.7±13.9Nm. Shoulder flexion also accounted for the peak WPSR value of 66.5%±20.3%. Supination and pronation movements had low peak moment requirements (3.4Nm, 5.0Nm, respectively) but high WPSR values (41%, 53%, respectively).

Conclusions

Even a relatively benign ramp (2.9°) places a large demand on the musculature of the upper extremity, as assessed by using the WPSR to indicate muscular demand.