Biomechanic Evaluation of Upper-Extremity Symmetry During Manual Wheelchair Propulsion Over Varied Terrain

Wendy J. Hurd, Melissa M. Morrow, Kenton R. Kaufman, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hurd WJ, Morrow MM, Kaufman KR, An K-N. Biomechanic evaluation of upper-extremity symmetry during manual wheelchair propulsion over varied terrain. Objective: To evaluate upper-extremity symmetry during wheelchair propulsion across multiple terrain surfaces. Design: Case series. Setting: A biomechanics laboratory and the general community. Participants: Manual wheelchair users (N=12). Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Symmetry indexes for the propulsion moment, total force, tangential force, fractional effective force, time-to-peak propulsion moment, work, length of push cycle, and power during wheelchair propulsion over outdoor and indoor community conditions, and in laboratory conditions. Results: Upper-extremity asymmetry was present within each condition. There were no differences in the magnitude of asymmetry when comparing laboratory with indoor community conditions. Outdoor community wheelchair propulsion asymmetry was significantly greater than asymmetry measured during laboratory conditions. Conclusions: Investigators should be aware that manual wheelchair propulsion is an asymmetrical act, which may influence interpretation when data is collected from a single limb or averaged for both limbs. The greater asymmetry identified during outdoor versus laboratory conditions emphasizes the need to evaluate wheelchair biomechanics in the user's natural environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1996-2002
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomechanics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Upper extremity
  • Wheelchairs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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