The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether mechanical efficiency (ME) relates to wheelchair propulsion capacity and wheelchair performance tasks during and after rehabilitation of people with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Eighty participants with a SCI were tested during rehabilitation (3x) and 1 year after discharge. Two 3-minute submaximal exercise blocks, a maximal wheelchair exercise test, and four wheelchair performance tasks were performed. ME, peak power output (POpeak), the sum of the performance times of a 15-m sprint and figure-of-eight, and the heart rate reserve (%HRR) during 10 s of wheelchair propulsion on a 3% and 6% slope were calculated. The relationship between ME and POpeak, %HRR and performance time was tested with a multilevel regression analysis. ME showed a significant relationship with POpeak(p ≤ 0.002). A 1% higher ME related to a 1.6-2.2 W higher POpeak. ME of exercise block 2 was related to the sum of the performance times of a 15-m sprint and figure-of-eight; the tests were performed faster by participants with a higher ME. No relationship was found between ME and %HRR during wheelchair propulsion on a slope. ME showed a significant effect on wheelchair propulsion capacity and wheelchair performance time during and 1 yr after SCI rehabilitation although the isolated effect of ME is small.

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International Journal of Sports Medicine
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Groot, S., Dallmeijer, A., van Asbeck, F., Post, M., Bussmann, H., & van der Woude, L. (2007). Mechanical efficiency and wheelchair performance during and after spinal cord injury rehabilitation. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 28(10), 880–886. doi:10.1055/s-2007-964900