Comparison of wheelchair wheels in terms of vibration and spasticity in people with spinal cord injury

Authors Sigrid Vorrink, L.H.V. van der Woude, Allon Messenberg, Peter Cripton, Barbara Hughes, Bonita Sawatzky
Published in Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Publication date 2008
Type Article


A wheelchair undergoes vibrations while traveling over obstacles and uneven surfaces, resulting in whole body vibration of the person sitting in the wheelchair. According to clinicians, people with spinal cord injury (SCI) report that vibration evokes spasticity. The relatively new Spinergy wheelchair wheels (Spinergy, Inc; San Diego, California) are claimed to absorb more road shock then conventional steel-spoked wheelchair wheels. If this claim is true, this wheel might also reduce spasticity in people with SCI. We hypothesized that Spinergy wheels would absorb vibration, reduce perceived spasticity, and improve comfort in individuals with SCI more than standard steel-spoked wheels. To test this hypothesis, 22 nondisabled subjects performed a passive ramp test so that we could more closely examine the dampening characteristics of the Spinergy versus traditional wheels. Furthermore, 13 subjects with SCI performed an obstacle test with both wheel types. Vibrations were measured with accelerometers, and spasticity and comfort were assessed with subject-reported visual analog scales. The results of the study showed that, within the current experimental setup, the Spinergy wheels neither reduced vibration or perceived spasticity nor improved comfort in people with SCI more than the conventional steel-spoked wheels.

Language English
Published in Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Year and volume 45 9
Page range 1269-1280