Research Study

The Effect of Motor Learning-based Wheelchair Propulsion Training on Wheeling Biomechanics and Gross Mechanical Efficiency in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Principal Investigator 
Bonita Sawatzky


Diagnosis and Therapy 
Assistive Devices 
Closed for Recruitment
Study Start/End 
Sep 2, 2014 to May 3, 2017
ICORD – Blusson Pavilion
Megan MacGillivray, Study Coordinator
Purpose of Study 

Many older adults lack the skill of efficient wheelchair propulsion despite being the largest cohort of wheelchair users. Inefficient wheelchair propulsion can lead to fatigue and overuse injuries that can result in lost independent mobility. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of a new training strategy using a motor learning based approach to train efficient wheelchair propulsion. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) No practice; 2) Motor learning-based training; or 3) Practice (time-matched to training). Potential improvements based on training will be explored for wheeling biomechanical variables and energy efficiency.

Study Hypothesis: We expect that the Training intervention will be superior to the Practice intervention for improving the biomechanical and physiological efficiency of wheelchair propulsion. It is also hypothesized that both the Training and Practice interventions will be superior to no practice.


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