Content » Vol 42, Issue 2

Original report

A qualitative examination of wheelchair configuration for optimal mobility performance in wheelchair sports: A pilot study

Barry Mason, Lorna Porcellato, Lucas H. van der Woude, Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0490


Objective: To examine wheelchair athletes’ perceptions of wheelchair configuration in relation to aspects of mobility performance.
Methods: Nine elite wheelchair athletes from wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis were interviewed using a semi-structured format. Interview transcripts were analysed using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, whereby emergent themes with common connections were identified and clustered into 3 superordinate themes: (i) performance indicators; (ii) principal areas of wheelchair configuration; and (iii) supplementary areas of wheelchair configuration.
Results: Participants revealed that stability was the most important contributor towards successful performance. Whilst there was some agreement amongst participants on how manipulating most areas of wheelchair configuration influenced performance, opinions were divided as to whether camber had a positive or negative effect on straight line performance.
Conclusion: Experienced athletes seemed to display a good understanding of how modifying wheelchair configurations
can affect sports performance, yet the methods offered for identifying optimal settings were extremely subjective. Therefore, future quantitative research into specific areas of configuration is imperative to identify these optimums and to inform athletes about the decisions they make when configuring a new sports wheelchair.

Lay Abstract


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