Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 50 Number 10, 2013
   Pages 1353 — 1362

Abstract — Changes in inertia and effect on turning effort across different wheelchair configurations

Jayme J. Caspall, MS;1 Erin Seligsohn;1–2 Phuc V. Dao, MS;1–2 Stephen Sprigle, PhD, PT1–3*

1Rehabilitation Engineering and Applied Research Laboratory, 2Department of Mechanical Engineering, and 3School of Applied Physiology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

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.

View HTML  ¦  View PDF  ¦  Contents Vol. 50, No.10
This article and any supplementary material should be cited as follows:
Caspall JJ, Seligsohn E, Dao PV, Sprigle S. Changes in inertia and effect on turning effort across different wheelchair configurations. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2013;50(10): 1353–62.

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