Effect of wheelchair stroke pattern on mechanical efficiency

S. de Groot, H.E.J. Veeger, A.P. Hollander, L.H.V. van der Woude

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Objective: To investigate the effect of different wheelchair stroke patterns on efficiency and propulsion technique (force application and timing). Design: Inexperienced, able-bodied subjects were randomly divided into two velocity groups (1.11 m/sec [n = 13] and 1.39 m/sec [n = 11]). An external (medium) load was set at 0.23 N/kg. Subjects performed four 4-min exercise blocks on a wheelchair ergometer. The first block was performed with a freely chosen movement pattern of the hand. Thereafter, the pumping, semicircular, or single-looping over propulsion pattern were performed in a counterbalanced order. Gross mechanical efficiency and propulsion technique variables were measured with Oxycon Alpha and an instrumented wheelchair ergometer. Results: A significant difference was found for mechanical efficiency, with pumping showing the highest efficiency and semicircular the lowest efficiency, regardless of velocity. Timing variables and negative power deflections before and after the push phase showed significant differences between the stroke patterns. Conclusions: Pumping is the energetically most efficient stroke pattern in contrast to the semicircular pattern in this subject group. Propulsion technique could not explain the difference in efficiency.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)640-649
    JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    Issue number8
    Early online date1 Aug 2004
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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