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Paraplegia. 1981;19(4):220-6.

Energy cost and cardiopulmonary responses for wheelchair locomotion and walking on tile and on carpet.


The purpose of this study was to compare energy cost and cardiopulmonary responses to wheelchair locomotion and walking on tile and on carpet at 3.0 km . h-1. Nine wheelchair-dependent (WD) and ten able-bodied (AB) individuals served as test subjects. WD subjects were tested for wheelchair locomotion on tile and on carpet, and AB subjects were tested for walking over both floor surfaces. Studied variables included gross energy cost (GEC), net locomotive energy cost (NLEC), pulmonary ventilation (VE) and heart rate (HR) during all test conditions. On tile, GEC and NLEC were found to be lower, whereas VE and HR were higher for wheelchair locomotion than for walking. On carpet, wheelchair locomotion elicited higher values for all variables than walking. In going from tile to carpet, significant increases in these variables were found for wheelchair locomotion, whereas walking elicited similar response magnitudes on both floor surfaces. These results suggest that cardiopulmonary stresses for wheelchair locomotion are higher than for walking, and that a carpet can present an obstacle to wheelchair locomotion which may not be recognised by those who walk.

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