Volume 50 Number 8, 2013
Pages 1047 — 1068
Abstract — The purpose of this study was to (1) evaluate the mechanical efficiency (ME) of two commercially available lever-propulsion mechanisms for wheelchairs and (2) compare the ME of lever propulsion with hand rim propulsion within the same wheelchair. Of the two mechanisms, one contained a torsion spring while the other used a roller clutch design. We hypothesized that the torsion spring mechanism would increase the ME of propulsion due to a passive recovery stroke enabled by the mechanism. Ten nondisabled male participants with no prior manual wheeling experience performed submaximal exercise tests using both lever-propulsion mechanisms and hand rim propulsion on two different wheelchairs. Cardiopulmonary parameters including oxygen uptake (VO2), heart rate (HR), and energy expenditure (En) were determined. Total external power (Pext) was measured using a drag test protocol. ME was determined by the ratio of Pext to En. Results indicated no significant effect of lever-propulsion mechanism for all physiological measures tested. This suggests that the torsion spring did not result in a physiological benefit compared with the roller clutch mechanism. However, both lever-propulsion mechanisms showed decreased VO2 and HR and increased ME (as a function of slope) compared with hand rim propulsion (p < 0.001). This indicates that both lever-propulsion mechanisms tested are more mechanically efficient than conventional hand rim propulsion, especially when slopes are encountered.
Key words: arm lever, cardiopulmonary strain, energy expenditure, lever-propelled wheelchair, lever propulsion, locomotion, mechanical efficiency, mobility aids, oxygen uptake, wheelchairs.
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Last Reviewed or Updated Tuesday, March 11, 2014 11:25 AM