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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Vol. 39 No. 6, November/December 2002
Pages 627-634


Kinetic and physiological analysis of the GAMEWheels system
Thomas J. O’Connor, PhD; Shirley G. Fitzgerald, PhD; Rory A. Cooper, PhD; Tricia A. Thorman, MOT; Michael L. Boninger, MD
Houston VA Medical Center, 2002 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX; Human Engineering Research Laboratories/ Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center of Excellence in Wheelchairs and Related Technology, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System 151R-1, 7180 Highland Drive, Pittsburgh, PA; Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technol-ogy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, 5044 Forbes Tower, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Suite 201 Kaufman Building, 3471 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
Abstract—For individuals with a spinal cord injury or dysfunction (SCI/D), opportunities to exercise are limited and are usually not highly motivating experiences. Exercise programs or extracurricular activities may help increase or maintain the cardiovascular fitness level of individuals with SCI/D. The GAMEWheels system, an interface between a portable roller system and a computer, enables an individual to control a video game by propelling his or her wheelchair. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the propulsive forces used during video play, both with and without the GAMEWheels system, were different. A secondary purpose was to examine differences in metabolic parameters during exercise under these two conditions. Ten manual wheelchair users exercised on the GAMEWheels system with and without controlling a video game. Physiological and kinetic data were collected six times during two exercise trials. Kinetic data were recorded with the SMARTWheel and used to investigate propulsion forces. No significant differences were found in the resultant force, rate of rise, or number of hand contacts with the pushrims. This study showed that propulsion pattern did not change significantly when wheelchair users exercised while playing a computer video game. Oxygen consumption, ventilation, and heart rate were significantly different (p < 0.05) between the two groups during the last three exercise intervals and cooldown. Playing a video game while exercising may help to motivate manual wheelchair users to exercise longer and regularly, something that was reported by this study’s subjects; likewise, exercising while playing a video game may not be associated with higher pushrim forces and stroke frequencies.

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