Purpose: To illustrate the potential benefits of kinetic and kinematic models in the exploration of biomechanical studies as illustrated using a simple 2-D static optimization model of wheelchair propulsion. Method. A four-bar linkage analysis was used to determine sagittal plane motion through the range of wheelchair propulsion. Using anthropometric measures of wheelchair users, this analysis determined the angles of shoulder and elbow flexion/extension at a given point in the propulsion cycle. Maximal strength inputs for the model were collected from isokinetic measurements of shoulder and elbow moments. The torque inputs were given as functions of sagittal plane joint angles. Through selection of appropriate model performance criteria, optimization techniques determined shoulder and elbow torque contributions throughout the propulsion cycle. Variations in the model parameters of anterior-posterior (AP) seat position and handrim size went used to show potential of model to evaluate wheelchair configuration using the performance criteria of propulsive moment (Mo) and efficiency as defined by fractional effective force (FEF). Results: The model was able to predict the magnitude and direction of force applied to the handrim from shoulder and elbow moments. These joint moments may be examined along with the generated wheelchair axle propulsion moment. While the model showed no significant changes in either Mo or FEF for AP seat changes, an increase in handrim size was shown to increase FEF. Conclusions: This model was able to simulate wheelchair propulsion and allow for performance analyses. The open nature of the model allowed for tweaking of the kinematic inputs to examine the sensitivity of such factors as seat position and handrim size in wheelchair propulsion. Strength inputs to the model may also be altered to study the potential effects of strength training or muscle weakness.
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