Shoulder Joint Kinetics of Loading a Wheelchair Frame into a Car

Philip S. Requejo, PhD, Sara J. Mulroy, PhD, Craig J. Newsam, DPT, Puja Ruparel, MS, Lisa Lighthall Haubert, MPT


For manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury (SCI), active community participation often requires independent use of a car for transportation. These activities necessitate repetitive loading of the wheelchair into and out of the car. The purpose of this study was to compare the shoulder joint moments experienced by manual wheelchair users when loading an aluminum and titanium wheelchair into a vehicle that simulated a sedan (low) and SUV (high) heights. We hypothesized that the shoulder joint demand when lifting the lighter weight titanium frame at a lower seat height would be reduced compared to lifting an aluminum frame at a higher seat height.  Peak shoulder flexion and abduction joint moments were reduced in the titanium compared to aluminum wheelchair, but seat height did not consistently influence shoulder moments. Lighter weight wheelchairs may help to minimize the risk for shoulder injuries in persons with spinal cord injury.


Wheelchairs, spinal cord injury, shoulder, car loading, biomechanics.


Supported by National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) grant # H133E080024 - Optimizing Participation Though Technology- Rehabilitation Engineering Center (OPTT-RERC) for Successful Aging with Disability.

Author Contact Information:

Philip S. Requejo Ph.D.
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center
7600 E. Imperial highway, Building 800, Room 33, Downey, CA 90242