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Is bearing resistance negligible during wheelchair locomotion? Design and validation of a testing device

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Purpose: Among the different resistances occurring during wheelchair locomotion and that limit the user autonomy, bearing resistance is generally neglected, based on a few studies carried out in static conditions and by manufacturer’s assertion. Therefore, no special attention is generally paid to the mounting and the maintenance of manual wheelchair bearings. However, the effect of inadequate mounting or maintenance on wheelchair bearing resistance has still to be clarified. This study aimed at filling this gap by developing and validating a specific device allowing the measurement of wheelchair bearing friction, characterized by low speed velocities, with an accuracy lower than 0.003 Nm. Methods: The bearing resistance measured by the device was compared to free deceleration measurement, intra and inter operator reproducibility were assessed. A factorial experiment allowed the effects of various functioning parameters (axial and radial loads, velocity) to be classified. Results: The device allowed significant differences in the bearing resistance of static and rotating conditions to be measured, even if a relatively high proportionality was found between both conditions. The factorial experiment allowed the expected impact of the radial load on bearing resistance as well as the predominant effect of the axial load to be demonstrated. Conclusions: As a consequence, it appeared that the control of the axial load is compulsory for measurement purposes or during wheel mounting, to avoid significant increase of global resistance during wheelchair locomotion. The findings of this study could help enhancing the models which assess manual wheelchair mechanical power from its settings and use conditions.
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Bibliogr. 16 poz., rys., wykr.
  • Institution Nationale des Invalides, Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche sur l’Appareillage des Handicapés, Woippy, France. 2 Arts et Métiers, Institut de Biomécanique Humaine Georges Charpak, Paris, France,
  • Arts et Métiers, Institut de Biomécanique Humaine Georges Charpak, Paris, France
  • Arts et Métiers, Institut de Biomécanique Humaine Georges Char pak, Paris, France
  • Arts et Métiers, Institut de Biomécanique Humaine Georges Char pak, Paris, France
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