To What Extent Can the Use of a Mobility Assistance Dog Reduce Upper Limb Efforts When Manual Wheelchair Users Ascend a Ramp?

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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Biomechanical evidence is needed to determine to what extent the use of a mobility assistance dog (ADMob) may minimize mechanical loads and muscular demands at the upper limbs among manual wheelchair users. This study quantified and compared upper limb efforts when propelling up a ramp with and without an ADMob among manual wheelchair users. Ten manual wheelchair users with a spinal cord injury who own an ADMob ascended a ramp with and without their ADMob. The movements of the wheelchair and upper limbs were captured and the forces applied at the pushrims were recorded to compute shoulder mechanical loading. Muscular demand of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, biceps, and the triceps was normalized against the maximum electromyographic values. The traction provided by the ADMob significantly reduced the total force applied at the pushrim and its tangential component while the mechanical effectiveness remained similar. The traction provided by the ADMob also resulted in a significant reduction in shoulder flexion, internal rotation, and adduction moments. The muscular demands of the anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, biceps, and triceps were significantly reduced by the traction provided by the ADMob. The use of ADMob represents a promising mobility assistive technology alternative to minimize upper limb mechanical loads and muscular demands and optimize performance during wheelchair ramp ascent.

Valérie Martin-Lemoyne and Dany H. Gagnon are with the Pathokinesiology Laboratory, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation of Greater Montreal (CRIR), Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal, Montreal, Canada; and the School of Rehabilitation, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada. François Routhier and Claude Vincent are with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration (CIRRIS), Institut de réadaptation en déficience physique de Québec, Quebec City, Canada; and the Department of Rehabilitation, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada. Lise Poissant is with the School of Rehabilitation, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada. Michel Tousignant and Hélène Corriveau are with the School of Rehabilitation, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Dany H. Gagnon at dany.gagnon.2@umontreal.ca.