Content » Vol 47, Issue 4

Original report

Wheelchair-specific fitness of inactive people with long-term spinal cord injury

Jan W. van der Scheer , Sonja de Groot, Marga Tepper, David Gobets , Dirkjan H.E.J. Veeger, Lucas H. V. van der Woude
Center for Human Movement Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1934


Objectives: To describe wheelchair-specific anaerobic work capacity, isometric strength and peak aerobic work capacity of physically inactive people with long-term spinal cord injury using outcomes of tests that are feasible for use in rehabilitation centres, and to determine associations among these fitness components.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Participants: Manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury for at least 10 years, who were inactive based on a norm score of a physical activity questionnaire (n = 29; 22 men; 20 with paraplegia; median age 53 years).
Methods: Participants performed 3 exercise tests in their own wheelchair to determine: highest 5-s power output over 15-m overground sprinting (P5–15m); highest 3-s isometric push-force (Fiso); and peak power output (POpeak) and peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) over a peak test.
Results: Median (interquartile range) was in P5–15m 16. 1 W (9. 4–20. 9); in Fiso 399 N (284–610); in POpeak 40. 9 W (19. 1–54. 9); and in VO2peak 1. 26 l/min (0. 80–1. 67). Correlations among outcomes of fitness components were weak (r = 0. 50–0. 67, p < 0. 01), except for P5–15m with POpeak (r = 0. 79, p < 0. 001).
Conclusion: All fitness components measured in this sample
were at relatively low levels, implying a specific need for interventions to improve wheelchair-specific fitness.
The weak-to-moderate associations among components imply that separate tests should be used when monitoring wheelchair-specific fitness in rehabilitation centres.

Lay Abstract


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