Trunk and neck kinematics during overground manual wheelchair propulsion in persons with tetraplegia

Marie C. Julien, Kerri Morgan, Christina L. Stephens, John Standeven, Jack Engsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: To test the hypothesis that movement of the head and trunk increases as a consequence of speed during manual wheelchair propulsion over the ground in individuals with tetraplegia. Methods: Seven adult participants with tetraplegia who used manual wheelchairs (5 men and 2 women, aged 33.0±10.2) were selected for the study. Participants propelled over the ground at three different speeds while video motion capture methods collected kinematic data. Variables investigated were forward flexion, lateral flexion and axial rotation for both the head and trunk. Repeated measures ANOVA were used to determine effects of speed on head and trunk movements. Results: Both neck and trunk forward flexion significantly increased as a result of speed (p=0.034, p=0.031), with a large effect size (r=0.6, r=0.6) between slow and fast speeds. Lateral flexion and axial rotation were minimal for the neck and trunk and did not significantly increase with speed. Conclusions: Results suggest that manual wheelchair users with tetraplegia compensate for trunk muscle weakness by flexing the upper trunk and neck forward during manual wheelchair propulsion and that these movements increase with speed. Further studies should examine if these movements relate to overuse injuries and interventions that focus on improving manual wheelchair biomechanics of individuals with tetraplegia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Biomechanics
  • Neck
  • Rehabilitation
  • Trunk
  • Wheelchairs


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