To compare the energy expenditure of two types of manual wheelchair propulsion.
Design. Experimental and comparative design - using matched controls.
A new manual wheelchair propulsion technique is proposed to minimize the overload exerted on the upper
limb during the classical propulsion. The energy cost and other parameters of this new propulsion technique were
Methods. Eight paraplegic male adults (Mean ± SD) values for age and body mass were 28 ± 4 years and 61.75 ± 8.35 kg
and seven able-bodied subjects (age and body mass were respectively 25 ± 2 years and 81.4 ± 7.4 kg) were recruited for
this study. Each subject propelled manually two types of wheelchair with two different propulsion techniques. Heart rate
and oxygen consumption resulting from each manual propulsion type were calculated and compared.
Mean VO2 peak values were not found to be significantly different between classical and the new proposed
wheelchair propulsion for the paraplegic subjects. VO2 values were significantly lower in able-bodied subjects. Maximal
Heart Rate were found to be higher when using the classical propulsion technique in both able-bodied and paraplegic
The Classical wheelchair propulsion technique needs to be adapted to the physiological and biomechanical
work of the paraplegic’s upper extremities. This study showed the advantage of using a different propulsion technique.
More studies are needed to recommend the new technique.