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Assist Technol. 2014 Spring;26(1):24-32.

The development of an instrumented wheelchair propulsion testing and training device.


Researchers have used several types of testing devices and training surfaces to examine wheelchair propulsion. Testing and training wheelchair users on the actual surface of interest, such as tile floors or ramps, is ideal but difficult. Devices such as treadmills, dynamometers, and ergometers allow for researchers and clinicians to observe wheelchair users in a controlled space. However, these devices often do not have the ability to realistically simulate the environment. This methodological article describes the instrumentation, development and function of a wheelchair dynamometer system, the WheelMill System (WMS), a uniquely adjustable roller system for wheelchairs. Three participants wheeled on the WMS, over a tile surface and up two different graded slopes with the SmartWheel to compare speed and forces. The WMS reasonably simulated propulsion over a tile floor, though the participants' speed was slightly faster on tile, and the peak forces for each propulsion stroke varied more on tile than on the WMS. For the slopes, the speed oscillated over a greater range and was slower, and the measured peak forces were higher than the values measured on the WMS. The WMS may have several applications, though additional studies on a greater and more diverse population are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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