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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2013;50(5):651-62.

Coordination patterns of shoulder muscles during level-ground and incline wheelchair propulsion.

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  • 1ASPIRE Centre for Disability Sciences, Institute of Orthopedics and Musculoskeletal Science, University College London, Brockley Hill, Stanmore, London, United Kingdom.


The aim of this study was to investigate how the coordination patterns of shoulder muscles change with level-ground and incline wheelchair propulsion. Wheelchair kinetics and electromyography (EMG) activity of seven muscles were recorded with surface electrodes for 15 nondisabled subjects during wheelchair propulsion on a stationary ergometer and wooden ramp (4 degree slope). Kinetic data were measured by a SmartWheel. The kinetics variables and the onset, cessation, and duration of EMG activity from seven muscles were compared with paired t-tests for two sessions. Muscle coordination patterns across seven muscles were analyzed by principal component analysis. Push forces on the push rim and the percentage of push phase in the cycle increased significantly during incline propulsion. Propulsion condition and posture affected muscle coordination patterns. During incline propulsion, there was more intense and longer EMG activity of push muscles in the push phase and less EMG activity of the recovery muscles, which corresponded with the increased kinetic data total force output and longer push phase in the incline condition. This work establishes a framework for developing a performance feedback system for wheelchair users to better coordinate their muscle patterning activity.

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