Volume 50 Number 10, 2013
Pages 1353 — 1362
Abstract — When executing turning maneuvers, manual wheelchair users must overcome the rotational inertia of the wheelchair system. Differences in wheelchair rotational inertia can result in increases in torque required to maneuver, resulting in greater propulsion effort and stress on the shoulder joints. The inertias of various configurations of an ultralightweight wheelchair were measured using a rotational inertia-measuring device. Adjustments in axle position, changes in wheel and tire type, and the addition of several accessories had various effects on rotational inertias. The configuration with the highest rotational inertia (solid tires, mag wheels with rearward axle) exceeded the configuration with the lowest (pneumatic tires, spoke wheels with forward axle) by 28%. The greater inertia requires increased torque to accelerate the wheelchair during turning. At a representative maximum acceleration, the reactive torque spanned the range of 11.7 to 15.0 N-m across the wheelchair configurations. At higher accelerations, these torques exceeded that required to overcome caster scrub during turning. These results indicate that a wheelchair's rotational inertia can significantly influence the torque required during turning and that this influence will affect active users who turn at higher speeds. Categorizing wheelchairs using both mass and rotational inertia would better represent differences in effort during wheelchair maneuvers.
Key words: bout, caster scrub, manual wheelchair, mobility, propulsion effort, rolling resistance, rotational inertia, turning effort, wheelchair, yaw axis control.
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Last Reviewed or Updated Tuesday, March 11, 2014 11:26 AM