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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Supplement Number 1
Volume 42 Number 3, May/June 2005
Pages 55 — 64


Abstract - Hand-rim wheelchair propulsion capacity during rehabilitation of persons with spinal cord injury

Annet J. Dallmeijer, PhD;1-2* Olga J. E. Kilkens, PhD;3 Marcel W. M. Post, PhD;3-4 Sonja de Groot, PhD;2,5 Edmond L. D. Angenot, MD;5 Floris W. A. van Asbeck, MD, PhD;4 Anand V. Nene, MD, PhD;6
Lucas H. V. van der Woude, PhD2,5

1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam; 2Institute for Fundamental
and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam; 3IRV Institute for Rehabilitation Research,
Hoensbroek; 4Rehabilitation Center De Hoogstraat, Utrecht; 5Rehabilitation Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam; 6Rehabilitation Center Het Roessingh, Enschede, the Netherlands
Abstract-This paper describes the course of wheelchair propulsion capacity (WPC) during rehabilitation of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and its relationship with personal and injury characteristics. We investigated 132 subjects with SCI (37 with tetraplegia) at the start of active rehabilitation (t1), 3 months later (t2), and at the end of clinical rehabilitation (t3). WPC was measured as the maximal power output that can be achieved in a maximal wheelchair exercise test on a treadmill. Results were analyzed with the use of generalized estimating equations, with time of measurement, lesion level, motor completeness of the lesion, age, and gender as independent variables. Overall, WPC increased from 30.5 W at t1, to 39.5 W at t2, and 44.2 W at t3. Persons with paraplegia, persons with incomplete lesions, men, and younger persons had higher values for WPC compared with persons with tetraplegia, persons with complete lesions, women, and older persons. Rate of improvement was lower in older persons and women compared with younger persons and men. This paper identifies factors that affect the level (lesion level, completeness of the lesion, age, gender) and rate of improvement (age, gender) of WPC during rehabilitation. These findings should be considered when wheelchair capacity training is applied in SCI rehabilitation.
Key words: functional ability, hand-rim wheelchair, maximal power output, paraplegia, physical capacity, rehabilitation, spinal cord injury, tetraplegia, training, treadmill.

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