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Efficiency of wheelchair propulsion and effects of strategy

Lenton, John P. and Fowler, Neil E. and der Woude, L. Van. and Goosey-Tolfrey, Victoria L. (2008) Efficiency of wheelchair propulsion and effects of strategy. International journal of sports medicine, 29 (5). pp. 384-389. ISSN 1439-3964

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The purpose of this study was to determine the contributions of arm frequency and propulsion mode on the internal work during submaximal wheelchair propulsion. Twelve able-bodied participants performed a V·O2 peak test on a wheelchair ergometer. On a separate occasion, six (4 min) submaximal exercise conditions employing two modes of propulsion (synchronous, SYN vs. asynchronous, ASY) at arm frequencies of 40 and 80 rev · min-1 were performed at 1.2 m · s-1 and 1.7 m · s-1. These conditions resulted in three push strategy combinations (ASY [20 : 20], SYN [40 : 40] & ASY [40 : 40]) at two speeds. Gross, net, work and delta efficiency were determined. The cost of unloaded exercise was significantly lower for the ASY [20 : 20] than both ASY and SYN [40 : 40] (0.49 vs. 0.58 and 0.57 L · min-1, respectively). All the efficiency indices decreased as velocity increased (p < 0.01). ASY [20 : 20] was the least efficient (gross and work) mode (4.2 ± 0.4 % and 6.2 ± 0.8 % respectively). Comparison of equal arm frequencies (ASY [40 : 40] vs. SYN [40 : 40]); found the efficiency to be lower for ASY propulsion (p < 0.05). Under the current testing conditions SYN propulsion mode offers greater efficiency during wheelchair propulsion.

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