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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2000;14(1):21-31.

Evaluation of a manual wheelchair interface to computer games.

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  • 1Departments of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


The sedentary lifestyle of many people with spinal cord injury (SCI) has lead to cardiovascular diseases being a major health concern. A suitable exercise program may help improve the SCI individual's cardiovascular fitness level. GAMEWheels is an interface between a custom wheelchair roller system and a computer that enables an individual to control computer video games by driving his or her wheelchair. The purpose of Phase 1 was to evaluate the design of the GAMEWheels system and to determine the type of computer video game that is likely to motivate wheelchair users to exercise. Phase 2 included physiologic testing of wheelchair users and the GAMEWheels system to investigate whether the system elicits an exercise training response. Thirty-five subjects were recruited to evaluate the GAMEWheels by playing three commercial computer games (Phase 1) and to identify the computer game that they would prefer to use when exercising. The feedback from Phase 1 was used with test subjects to verify that the GAMEWheels system elicits an exercise training effect (Phase 2). Phase 2 included 10 subjects using the GAMEWheels system to play Need for Speed II. During game play, physiologic data were collected and the subjects' oxygen consumption and heart rate were analyzed. Analysis showed that the GAMEWheels system induced nine subjects to reach their training zone, defined as 50% and 60% of their maximum oxygen consumption and heart rate, respectively. This study demonstrates that the GAMEWheels system elicits an exercise training response.

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