Using a wheelchair can be a challenging task for people with reduced force and control of muscles of abdomen or lower back. Spinal cord injured (SCI) people are the majority of those who are spending most of the day on a wheelchair and a proper training and chair setup is mandatory to reach a good level of functionality and to avoid harms and side effects. In order to assess the complex motion of a person self-pushing a wheelchair, a motion capture (Mocap) system has been arranged and a group of SCI patients has been acquired in a hospital gym. The Mocap system uses three Microsoft Kinect RGB-D sensors and iPisoft to perform the recording of the 3D motion. The main goal of the research is to provide therapists with a quantitative method to define a preliminary configuration in an objective way once is given the user’s medical conditions and his/her way of using the wheelchair. Working side by side with physiotherapists, the main parameters to be evaluated (e.g. pushing angles) have been identified and algorithms have been identified to automatically extract them from the 3D digital avatar model data coming from the Mocap system. The performance of the patients is then analyzed taking into account the wheelchair setup (e.g. position and inclination of the seat and of the back). The influence of geometric parameters on patients’ motion is analyzed so that design guidelines for configuration can be found. The overall outcome is to maximize performance and minimize side effects and fatigue, providing users with a better experience on the wheelchair.

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