A preliminary muscle activity analysis: Handle based and push-rim wheelchair propulsion.


Nithin Babu Rajendra Kurup


Research Unit of Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Engineering, TU Wien, Austria. Electronic address: [Email]


Approximately ninety percent of the wheelchair users worldwide prefer the conventional push rim mode of propulsion for daily mobility and rehabilitation. Even though push-rim wheelchairs help to promote a healthy life style, the high muscular demand and the non-continuous push motions can lead to serious upper extremity injuries. In this study, muscle EMG data of ten healthy subjects were recorded for a newly introduced handle based propulsion mechanism (HBP) and compared to conventional push-rim propulsion at two workloads, 25 W and 35 W respectively. The results for the mean peak muscle activations at both workloads demonstrate that push-rim propulsion leads to higher peak muscle activity compared to HBP at a similar wheelchair forward velocity of 1.11 m/s. The generation of these high peak muscle activations with increasing loads in push-rim propulsion over time can lead to overuse injuries. Overall, the use of the HBP mechanism is less straining to the muscles and may reduce fatigue during prolonged propulsion.


Handle based propulsion,Muscle activity,Wheelchair propulsion,