Wheelchair propulsion: functional ability dependent factors in wheelchair basketball players

Vanlandewijck, Y.C.; Spaepen, A.J.; Lysens, R.J.

Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 26(1): 37-48


The aim of this study was to examine the user-related parameters, 1) force generation 2) maximal aerobic power and 3) propulsion technique, in respect to functional ability level [ISMWSF] wheelchair basketball classification: groups 1, 2 and 3) of 40 elite wheelchair basketball players. Isometric (position on the handrims = -30, 0 degrees, +30 degrees and +60 degrees) and dynamic force application (velocities = 0.56, 0.83 and 1.11 m.s-1) on the handrims (test 1) was measured by means of a computerised wheelchair simulator, with the subjects sitting in a standardised position. Each subject performed a maximal exercise test (test 2) on a motor driven treadmill at 1.67 m.s-1 and four subsequent submaximal tests (test 3) at two exercise levels (60 and 80% of individual VO2) and two velocities (1.11 and 2.22 m.s-1) with constant power output. In tests 2 and 3, cardiorespiratory and kinematic data were recorded simultaneously. Although no significant differences between functional ability groups were found in relation to force application on the handrims, three different force application strategies were observed (test 1). Maximal aerobic capacity and power output (test 2) differed significantly (p < 0.05) between groups 1 and 2 and between groups 1 and 3. No differences in mechanical efficiency were observed between the three functional ability groups, irrespective of changes in wheelchair velocity and external load (test 3). Propulsion technique was not proven to be functional ability dependent although remarkable differences in movement pattern were observed, especially during the recovery phase.