Manual wheelchair propulsion is a well known factor of upper limb musculoskeletal disorders risk (ULMDR). Through a large bibliographic review, movement amplitude and repetition, proximity of joints limits, user overweight and vertical forces are commonly admitted as the main risk factors of upper limb injuries in wheelchair propulsion. Thus, we propose a clinically usable method to quantify ULMDR according to wheelchair kinematics. Through a synthesis of literature information, for the three upper limb joints, ergonomic indexes were grouped in a general equation to quantify ULMDR. A case study has been realized. A 3D analysis of upper limb motion during propulsion was made using a Vicon 460 system. Four different wheelchair configurations were tested: two seat heights and two anterior-posterior wheel positions. For both seat heights, computed ULMDR are less important for backward position. For both antero-posterior wheel positions, computed ULMDR are less important for the highest seat position. The results showed good promises at quantifying the impact of sitting changes on ULMDR. These ergonomic indexes could be helpful in clinical settings when prescribing a wheelchair. To validate this method, a longitudinal study will be performed. Forces applied on hand rims will be added in further development.
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