The Effect of Seat Position on Wheelchair Propulsion Biomechanics

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This study examined the effect of seat position on handrim biomechanics. Thirteen experienced users propelled a wheelchair over a smooth level floor at a self-selected speed. Kinetic and temporal-distance data were collected with the use of an instrumented rim and a motion analysis system. A custom-designed axle was used to change the seat position. We used repeated measures analysis of variance to evaluate if differences existed in the temporal-distance and kinetic data with change in seat position. Results showed that a shorter distance between the axle and shoulder (low seat height) improved the push time and push angle temporal variables (p < 0.0001). Tangential force output did not change with seat position. Axial and radial forces were highest in the lowest seat position (p < 0.001). Propulsion efficiency as measured by the fraction of effective force did not significantly change with seat position.

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