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EN
The aim of this study was to compare the activity of upper limb muscles during hand rim wheelchair propulsion and lever wheelchair propulsion at two different velocity levels. Methods: Twenty male volunteers with physical impairments participated in this study. Their task was to push a lever wheelchair and a hand rim wheelchair on a mechanical wheelchair treadmill for 4 minutes at a speed of 3.5 km/h and 4.5 km/h in a flat race setting (conditions of moving over flat terrain). During these trials, activity of eight muscles of upper limbs were examined using surface electromyography. Results: The range of motion in the elbow joint was significantly higher in lever wheelchair propulsion (59.8 ± 2.43°) than in hand rim wheelchair propulsion (43.9 ± 0.26°). Such values of kinematics resulted in a different activity of muscles. All the muscles were more active during lever wheelchair propulsion at both velocity levels. The only exceptions were extensor and flexor carpi muscles which were more active during hand rim wheelchair propulsion due to the specificity of a grip. In turn, the examined change in the velocity (by 1 km/h) while moving over flat terrain also caused a different EMG timing of muscle activation depending on the type of propulsion. Conclusions: Lever wheelchair propulsion seems to be a good alternative to hand rim wheelchair propulsion owing to a different movement technique and a different EMG timing of muscle activity. Therefore, we believe that lever wheelchair propulsion should serve as supplement to traditional propulsion.
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