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A kinetic analysis of trained wheelchair racers during two speeds of propulsion

Goosey-Tolfrey, Victoria L. and Fowler, Neil E. and Campbell, Iain G. and Iwnicki, Simon D. (2001) A kinetic analysis of trained wheelchair racers during two speeds of propulsion. Medical engineering and physics, 23 (4). pp. 259-266. ISSN 1350-4533

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Abstract

The purpose of the study was to investigate the propulsion kinetics of wheelchair racers at racing speeds and to assess how these change with an increase in speed. It was hypothesised that propulsive force would increase in proportion to speed, to accommodate the additional work required. Six wheelchair racers volunteered to participate in this study which required each athlete to push a racing wheelchair at 4.70 and 5.64 m s−1 on a wheelchair ergometer (WERG). Eight pairs (16 in total) of strain gauges, mounted on four bars attached to the hand-rim of a racing wheelchair wheel, measured the medio-lateral and tangential forces applied to the hand-rim. Kinetic data were sampled at 200 Hz while a single on-line (ELITE) infrared camera operating at 100 Hz was positioned perpendicular to the WERG to record the location of the hand with respect to the hand-rim. In general, peak tangential force occurred when the hand was positioned on the hand-rim between 140 and 180°. With the increase in speed, the peak hand-rim forces applied tangentially increased from 132 to 158 N and those applied medio-laterally increased from 90 to 104 N. The ratio of tangential to total measured force was similar at both speeds (80 and 82%, respectively). In conclusion, these data indicate that wheelchair racers adopt a different propulsion strategy than that employed in everyday chairs and that the forces increase in proportion to propulsion speed.

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