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Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2011;6(5):365-77. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2010.525290. Epub 2010 Oct 11.

Wheelchair propulsion biomechanics and wheelers' quality of life: an exploratory review.

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  • 1Methodist Rehabilitation Center, Jackson, MS 39110, USA.


PURPOSE. To provide an overview of associations between wheelchair propulsion biomechanics for both everyday and racing wheelchairs, wheeling-related upper limb injuries, and quality of life of manual wheelchair users through a synthesis of the available information. METHODS. A search of publications was carried out in PubMed and SportsDiscus databases. Studies on wheelchair propulsion biomechanics, upper limb injuries associated with wheelchair propulsion and quality of life of wheelchair users were identified. Relevant articles cited in identified articles but not cited in PubMed or SportsDiscus were also included. RESULTS. Wheelchair sports participation has positive impact on quality of life and research in racing wheelchair biomechanics can indirectly promote the visibility of wheelchair sports. The impact of pushrim-activated power-assisted wheelchairs (a hybrid between manual and battery-powered wheelchairs) and geared manual wheels on wheelers' everyday life were discussed. CONCLUSIONS. The study of wheelchair propulsion biomechanics focuses on how a wheelchair user imparts power to the wheels to achieve mobility and the accumulated knowledge can help to improve wheelchair users' mobility, reduce physical stress associated with wheelchair propulsion, and as a result, enhance quality of life.

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