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Numerous studies in the past 30 years have researched physiological adaptation to stress by wheelchair-bound subjects. Instrumentation necessary to produce this effect had to be designed and tested prior to obtaining valid data. This study had two main purposes: to design a wheelchair ergometer for physiological testing of spinal cord-injured subjects, and to demonstrate the validity of the maximal stress test when using the wheelchair ergometer. To test the validity of the wheelchair ergometer, 10 disabled subjects (9 paraplegic and 1 quadriplegic) participated in both a maximal field test (FT) and a maximal wheelchair ergometer test (WERG), with each subject serving as his or her own control. A randomly assigned counterbalanced design (5 subjects assigned to complete the FT first, with the second group of 5 subjects completing the WERG first) was used to reduce the learning effect in the study. The results of the t-tests indicated there was no significant difference between V̇O2 and V̇E, (STPD) averages for the WERG and FT for maximal effort with two-tailed significant levels of t = .9016 and t = .7294, respectively. The Pearson product moment correlation level was statistically significant at p < .0001, when the WERG V̇O2 was compared to the FT V̇O2 (r = .94), and was significant at p < .005 when the WERG V̇E was compared to the FT V̇E (r = .82).
This project was supported in part by grants from the NIH Biomechanical Research Support Grant and the Provost’s Research Fund.