Effect of wheelchair mass, tire type and tire pressure on physical strain and wheelchair propulsion technique
Medical engineering & physics | 7 May 2013
S de Groot, RJ Vegter and LH van der Woude
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of wheelchair mass, solid vs. pneumatic tires and tire pressure on physical strain and wheelchair propulsion technique. 11 Able-bodied participants performed 14 submaximal exercise blocks on a treadmill with a fixed speed (1.11m/s) within 3 weeks to determine the effect of tire pressure (100%, 75%, 50%, 25% of the recommended value), wheelchair mass (0kg, 5kg, or 10kg extra) and tire type (pneumatic vs. solid). All test conditions (except pneumatic vs. solid) were performed with and without instrumented measurement wheels. Outcome measures were power output (PO), physical strain (heart rate (HR), oxygen uptake (VO2), gross mechanical efficiency (ME)) and propulsion technique (timing, force application). At 25% tire pressure PO and subsequently VO2 were higher compared to 100% tire pressure. Furthermore, a higher tire pressure led to a longer cycle time and contact angle and subsequently lower push frequency. Extra mass did not lead to an increase in PO, physical strain or propulsion technique. Solid tires led to a higher PO and physical strain. The solid tire effect was amplified by increased mass (tire×mass interaction). In contrast to extra mass, tire pressure and tire type have an effect on PO, physical strain or propulsion technique of steady-state wheelchair propulsion. As expected, it is important to optimize tire pressure and tire type.
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