Past Awardee

Accelerometery in Wheelchair Propulsion

Jacob Sosnoff

College: Applied Health Sciences
Award year: 2009-2010

Nearly 70% of manual wheelchair users experience shoulder pain that negatively impacts their quality of life and independence. Although the pathogenesis of shoulder pain is multifaceted, propulsion mechanics (i.e., how one pushes the chair) appear to play a significant role. However, examinations of propulsion mechanics and shoulder pain have not yielded clear results. The majority of research on shoulder pain's relationship with wheelchair propulsion has been limited to laboratories due to technological constraints. It is thought that wheelchair propulsion in real life settings is distinct from that of lab settings and could exacerbate differences in wheelchair propulsion between those with and without pain. This proposal seeks to validate sensor technology (i.e., accelerometers) to allow for examinations of wheelchair propulsion in real life settings thus augmenting a larger project examining factors contributing to manual wheelchair users' shoulder pain. Overall, the project has the potential to develop techniques to identify wheelchair users at risk for developing shoulder pain and interventions to prevent shoulder pain, as well as influence manual wheelchair design. An integral part of this project is collaboration with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Peter Bajcsy and his Image Spatial Analysis Group, as he and the lab will provide expertise in sensor technology (i.e., 3D accelerometers). Results from this project will form grant applications to the National Institute of Health and the National Science Foundation.