To What Extent Can the Use of a Mobility Assistance Dog Reduce Upper Limb Efforts When Manual Wheelchair Users Ascend a Ramp?J Appl Biomech. 2016 Apr; 32(2):186-95.JA
Biomechanical evidence is needed to determine to what extent the use of a mobility assistance dog (AD(Mob)) may minimize mechanical loads and muscular demands at the upper limbs among manual wheelchair users. This study quantified and compared upper limb efforts when propelling up a ramp with and without an AD(Mob) among manual wheelchair users. Ten manual wheelchair users with a spinal cord injury who own an AD(Mob) ascended a ramp with and without their AD(Mob). The movements of the wheelchair and upper limbs were captured and the forces applied at the pushrims were recorded to compute shoulder mechanical loading. Muscular demand of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, biceps, and the triceps was normalized against the maximum electromyographic values. The traction provided by the AD(Mob) significantly reduced the total force applied at the pushrim and its tangential component while the mechanical effectiveness remained similar. The traction provided by the AD(Mob) also resulted in a significant reduction in shoulder flexion, internal rotation, and adduction moments. The muscular demands of the anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, biceps, and triceps were significantly reduced by the traction provided by the AD(Mob). The use of AD(Mob) represents a promising mobility assistive technology alternative to minimize upper limb mechanical loads and muscular demands and optimize performance during wheelchair ramp ascent.