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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2008;45(1):109-16.

Effects of backrest positioning and gear ratio on nondisabled subjects' handcycling sprinting performance and kinematics.

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Laboratoire d'Etudes de la Motricité Humaine, EA 3608, Université de Lille 2, Faculté des Sciences du Sport et de l'Education Physique (FSSEP), Ronchin, France.


Backrest position is a significant parameter in handcycling that one must consider when seeking to optimize the user-to-chair interface. We studied the effects of backrest position on handcycle propulsion kinematics. Ten nondisabled partici pants with no handcycle propulsion experience repeated an 8 s sprint with three backrest positions (backrest angle between 45 degrees and 50 degrees to the horizontal, backrest angle between 65 degrees and 70 degrees to the horizontal, and without backrest) and three gear ratios (GRs) (GR22/21 = low, GR32/21 = medium, and GR44/21 = high). We used three-dimensional movement analysis to calculate the average maximal velocity, cycle frequency, and angle parameters for the arms and trunk. Our results showed statistically higher trunk flexion/extension (p < 0.001) and maximal velocity (p < 0.001) when a backrest was not used. Moreover, these differences were accentuated as the GR increased (GR44/21). Our results suggest that handcycle users with unimpaired upper-body and trunk function can improve handcycling performance by removing the backrest. Nevertheless, future studies on specific groups of subjects with spinal cord injury should be conducted.

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