propulsion and prevention, well-designed, high-performance manual wheelchair

Propulsion & Prevention

What Manufacturers Say
Q: Can a well-designed high-performance manual chair provide clinical benefits as well as mobility and independence? If so, how does the chair accomplish these clinical/functional goals?

A: A well-designed high-performance manual wheelchair can provide clinical benefits, maximize mobility and independence, especially when prescribed and set up properly. One of the benefits of a well-designed, made-to-measure chair is that the clinician can specify the seat heights, wheel size and camber, all of which impact pushrim contact angle, stroke frequency and efficiency. These benefits, along with an adjustable center-of-gravity feature which allows the clinician to set the axle as far forward as possible, further enhances mobility and other benefits to reduce shoulder overuse injuries. The overall weight of the chair is also important to accomplish these goals, so it is critical that the chair is built of lightweight material and that options and adjustment features are limited to exactly what the customer actually needs, as more adjustment and more add-on options all add weight.
— Mary Carol Peterson, OT, Marketing/Customer Service Manager, Invacare Top End

A: The materials used in the product of a chair, as well as configuration, will impact the propulsion efficiency. Propulsion with the least amount of force and repetitions needed will lead to less injuries of the upper extremity. Frame design plays a role in ease of transfer for transport.
— Joe Klickna, Product Manager, Adult Manual and Sports, and Lori Nicolini, PT, ATP, Clinical Education Specialist, Sunrise Medical

A: Absolutely, not only can a high-performance manual chair provide these benefits, but it should be expected from this type of chair. When I think of a chair in this category, I think of a chair that is specifically made to an individual’s measurements. This level of customization increases mobility and independence by providing the user the best possible fit and configuration of the components for that user to maximize mobility and reduce the chance for injury. When looking at performance, we look for the chair to be lightweight so it is easy to transport, yet equally as important is its efficiency. This is what translates into less energy expended to go from point A to point B. If the frame of the chair is unable to hold its shape or the front buckles back every time the user goes over a door jam, energy is lost.
— Josh Anderson, VP of Marketing, TiLite

This article originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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