Skill acquisition of manual wheelchair propulsion: initial motor learning
Riemer JK VEGTERa, Claudine J LAMOTHa, Dirkjan HEJ VEEGERb,c, Sonja de GROOTa,d and Lucas HV van der WOUDEa,e
Center for Human Movement Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
b Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, Institute for Fundamental & Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
c Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, section Biomedical Engineering, Delft University of Technology
d Reade, Center for Rehabilitation& Rheumatology, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
e Center for Rehabilitation, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Changes in propulsion technique due to motor learning might account for a higher mechanical efficiency (ME, the ratio of internal power over external power). The changes in ME and propulsion technique were studied in a learning experiment, three times a week for eight minutes, with nine able-bodied subjects, simulating early rehabilitation. Instrumented wheels measured three-dimensional forces and torques on the handrim.
During practice peak torques were reduced, work per cycle increased, while push frequency decreased, at a stable power output and speed of the treadmill. Over the three weeks of practice propulsion technique kept changing in combination with an increase of ME.
Results suggest skill acquisition because of motor learning. The rise in ME seems logically related to propulsion technique, but is not yet fully understood. More insight in motor learning and skill acquisition will contribute to understanding and optimizing rehabilitation strategies in the light of wheelchair provision in early rehabilitation.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2011