Effects Of Changes In Wheelchair Cycling Velocity On Upper Extremity Joint Kinematics

  • Carol Pope
  • M. Forrest
  • L. Pickle
Keywords: spinal cord injury, wheelchair


Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) have been targeted by the Centers for Disease Control for injury prevention research. An emerging secondary disability related to SCI is overuse injury, particularly affecting soft tissue and upper extremity joints. The presence of overuse injuries is a growing concern among health professionals. The number of joints available for overall performance of daily living skills has been reduced yet the demands for performance have increased using fewer functioning body parts. Individuals who use wheelchairs (WCs) basically rely on 3 joints (shoulder, elbow, and wrist) for everyday locomotion, performance of activities-of-daily-living tasks, work-related tasks, and exercise and recreation activities. Mortality rate among individuals who use WCs is higher than for the general population, partially as a result of sedentary lifestyle and related complications. A need exists to be able to exercise aerobically to develop cardiovascular fitness creating as little trauma as possible on the 3 major joints and supporting tissue. The purpose of the study was to examine changes occurring at upper extremity joints at 3 velocities during a stationary WC propulsion task using a racing Wc. This is the initial phase of a larger project investigating force production characteristics during aerobic activity utilizing four different types of exercise equipment for persons in WCs. Ss were 10 adult paraplegic males who were SCI and were experienced WC athletes. Three dimensional video data were collected Ss propelled a 3-wheeled racing chair mounted on a stationary WC roller system at 3 different speeds (self selected aerobic training pace, near race pace, and an all-out pace). Angular displacement, velocity, and acceleration data on 10 propulsion cycles per pace per subject were obtained using three-dimensional analysis software. Analyses of variance were conducted to determine if significant differences existed by subject during the 3 paces in displacement, velocity, and acceleration patterns at the upper extremity joints. Research sponsored by Texas Christian University Research Fund Grant #523609.