Mechanical load on the upper extremity during wheelchair activities

Stefan Van Drongelen, Lucas H Van der Woude, Thomas W Janssen, Edmond L Angenot, Edward K Chadwick, DirkJan H Veeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To determine the net moments on the glenohumeral joint and elbow joint during wheelchair activities.

Design: Kinematics and external forces were measured during wheelchair activities of daily living (level propulsion, riding on a slope, weight-relief lifting, reaching, negotiating a curb) and processed in an inverse dynamics biomechanic model.

Setting: Biomechanics laboratory.

Participants: Five able-bodied subjects, 8 subjects with paraplegia, and 4 subjects with tetraplegia.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measure: Net moments on the glenohumeral joint and elbow joint.

Results: Peak shoulder and elbow moments were significantly higher for negotiating a curb and weight-relief lifting than for reaching, level propulsion, and riding on a slope. Overall, the elbow extension moments were significantly lower for subjects with tetraplegia than for those with paraplegia.

Conclusions: The net moments during weight-relief lifting and negotiating a curb were high when compared with wheelchair propulsion tasks. Taking the effect of frequency and duration into account, these loads might imply a considerable risk for joint damage in the long term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1214-1220
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005

Bibliographical note

We greatly acknowledge the technical assistance of Jos van den Berg and the experimental assistance of Brechje Tijssen, Manon Faijdherbe, and Marijke Schep.


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