Adaptations in physiology and propulsion techniques during the initial phase of learning manual wheelchair propulsion

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to analyze adaptations in gross mechanical efficiency and wheelchair propulsion technique in novice able-bodied subjects during the initial phase of learning hand-rim wheelchair propulsion.

DESIGN: Nine able-bodied subjects performed three 4-min practice blocks on a wheelchair ergometer. The external power output and velocity of all blocks was, respectively, 0.25 W/kg and 1.11 m/sec. Gross mechanical efficiency, force application, timing, and intercycle variability were measured.

RESULTS: No change in gross mechanical efficiency was found. However, a decrease in push frequency occurred, which was accompanied by an increase in work per cycle and a decrease in percentage push time. The increase in work per cycle was associated with a higher peak torque. No changes in intercycle variability were visible over time.

CONCLUSIONS: The timing variables had already changed during the initial phase of learning manual wheelchair propulsion. However, for other variables, such as force production, gross mechanical efficiency, and intercycle variability, a longer practice period might be necessary to induce a change. The effective force direction seemed to be optimized from the start of the learning process onward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-10
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Ergometry
  • Humans
  • Locomotion
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Torque
  • Wheelchairs

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