Repetitive loading of the upper limb due to wheelchair propulsion plays a leading role in the development of shoulder pain in manual wheelchair users (mWCUs). There has been minimal inquiry on understanding wheelchair propulsion kinematics from a human movement ergonomics perspective. This investigation employs an ergonomic metric, jerk, to characterize the recovery phase kinematics of two recommended manual wheelchair propulsion patterns: semi-circular and the double loop. Further it examines if jerk is related to shoulder pain in mWCUs. Data from 22 experienced adult mWCUs was analyzed for this study (semi-circular: n=12 (pain/without-pain:6/6); double-loop: n=10 (pain/without-pain:4/6)). Participants propelled their own wheelchair fitted with SMARTWheels on a roller dynamometer at 1.1m/s for 3min. Kinematic and kinetic data of the upper limbs were recorded. Three dimensional absolute jerk experienced at the shoulder, elbow and wrist joint during the recovery phase of wheelchair propulsion were computed. Two-way ANOVAs were conducted with the recovery pattern type and shoulder pain as between group factors. Findings: (1) Individuals using a semi-circular pattern experienced lower jerk at their arm joints than those using a double loop pattern (P<0.05, η2=0.32)wrist;(P=0.05, η2=0.19)elbow;(P<0.05, η2=0.34)shoulder and (2) individuals with shoulder pain had lower peak jerk magnitude during the recovery phase (P≤0.05, η2=0.36)wrist;(P≤0.05, η2=0.30)elbow;(P≤0.05, η2=0.31)shoulder. Conclusions: Jerk during wheelchair propulsion was able to distinguish between pattern types (semi-circular and double loop) and the presence of shoulder pain. Jerk provides novel insights into wheelchair propulsion kinematics and in the future it may be beneficial to incorporate jerk based metric into rehabilitation practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3937-3944
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number14
StatePublished - Nov 5 2015


  • Ergonomics of movement
  • Jerk cost
  • Motor control
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Shoulder rehabilitation
  • Wheelchair propulsion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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