Ergonomics of Wheelchair Design: A Prerequisite for Optimum Wheeling Conditions

Luc H.V. van der Woude, Dirk-Jan E.J. Veeger, Rients H. Rozendal
1989 Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly  
A review of wheelchair research within the scope of the wheelchair as a means of daily ambulation is presented. The relevance of a combined biomechanical and physiological research approach is advocated for enhancing the body of knowledge of wheelchair ergonomics, that is, the wheelchairluser interaction in relation to aspects of vehicle mechanics and the user's physical condition. Results of experiments regarding variations in the wheelchairluser interface stress the possibilities of
more » ... lities of optimization in terms of wheelchair dimensions and user characteristics. Analysis of propulsion technique is aimed at the withincycle characteristics and the time-dependent organization of technique. Ergonomics is a fairly new area of research that has emerged as a postwar specialization of human and technical sciences. The essence of ergonomics is the optimization of human work conditions (devices, tools, work, environment) with respect to the capabilities of the human being such that health, safety, comfort, and efficiency are improved. In this respect, rehabilitation engineering might be seen as a special form of ergonomics. The design of a tool or assistive device is aimed at the restoration of (a modality of) functions and subsequently at enhancing the quality of the client's daily life. In most instances the tool in this sense is merely an extension of the human being, aimed at communication or interaction with the environment. The optimization or fine-tuning of the interaction between device and client in terms of individual efficiency, comfort, safety, and health is part of ergonomics. Given the specific disability related problems, one might argue that ergonomics within the area of rehabilitation engineering is a special form of ergonomics. However, as in other areas of ergonomics, the same philosophy is applicable and basic rules of optimization are observed. Fundamental research is needed in order to establish a body of knowledge appropriate for specifying the effects of an impairment or disability (Feeney, 1987; Rohmert, 1979) . This is illustrated in the review of the ergonomics of wheelchair ambulation presented here. Request reprints from Dr. Luc H.V. van der Woude,
doi:10.1123/apaq.6.2.109 fatcat:sec7wzcy6zazzc2chinh45dc5a