Benefits of handcycles and other alternative wheelchair propulsion methods.
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Benefits of Alternative Propulsion for Manual Wheelchairs

It’s common among manual wheelchair users to experience pain and upper extremity injuries related to the repetitive motion of operating manual wheelchairs that are propelled using hand operated push rims. Hand-rim propulsion is inefficient and very stressful to the musculoskeletal structure of the human body.

The constant physical strain of using hand-rim propelled wheelchairs causes repetitive strain injuries (RSI) to the upper body that could eventually lead to secondary impairments and disability.

The incidence of rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendonitis in various joints is greater in wheelchair users (50%) than in the general population (3%).

The constant physical strain of using hand-rim propelled wheelchairs causes repetitive strain injuries (RSI) to the upper body that could eventually lead to secondary impairments and disability.

For wheelchair-dependent individuals, further disability can result in a sedentary lifestyle that puts them at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease. The relatively inactive lifestyle of many wheelchair users can result in increased strain on tendons, muscles and the cardiopulmonary system when they’re challenged with propelling themselves over rough or uneven surfaces using an inefficient mode of propulsion.

Wheelchair users who pursue an active lifestyle that includes employment, recreational activities, cultural events, school, sports activities and other public venues encounter everyday obstacles that must be overcome in maintaining their independence. Handling door thresholds, uneven terrain, carpet, tight spaces, hills, ramps and other obstacles may require more physical strength and endurance than is available to some individuals.

To overcome everyday obstacles, manual wheelchair users can choose any or all of three basic strategies:
1. Build strength and stamina to enhance their capabilities using hand-powered pushrims.
2. Adopt alternative modes of manual wheelchair propulsion that transfer more efficient power to propulsion (lever drive, handcycle, hand crank).
3. Move to an electric-powered wheelchair.