Moment generation in wheelchair propulsion

Lan Yuen Guo, K. D. Zhao, Fong Chin Su, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Wheelchair propulsion is a man-machine interaction in which chair design and fit affect the relative positions and orientations of the upper extremity relative to the handrim and wheel axle. To understand these relationships better, experimental data were collected in five hand positions from five subjects exerting maximal effort to propel an instrumented wheelchair with its wheel in a locked position. The results of experiments revealed that the progression moment was greater at both initial and terminal propulsion positions and smaller in the mid-propulsion position. The vertical and horizontal force components were directed radially away from the wheel axle posterior to the dead centre position and radially towards the wheel axle anterior to top dead centre. Subsequently, a subject-specific quasi-static model of the upper extremity which maximized wheel progression moment was developed to augment our understanding of experimental measures. Model-predicted trends in progression moments and hand force direction were similar to experiment. Model predictions revealed that the optimal progression moment generation could potentially be affected by an individual's anthropometric parameters, joint strengths and also the direction of force applied by the hand on the handrim. Through wheelchair fitting and training of wheelchair users, it may be possible to improve propulsion technique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2003


  • Biomechanics
  • Modelling
  • Optimization
  • Wheelchair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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