Traditionally, handrims on lightweight and ultralight weight wheelchairs consist of a metal hoop rigidly mounted to the wheel. A flexible handrim consisting of high friction urethane spanning between a standard tubular handrim and the wheel has been developed. The urethane takes the shape of the hand when gripping (Richter et al., 2006).
Richter et al. (2006) investigated finger and wrist flexor activity when using a flexible handrim as compared to a standard handrim. Twenty four subjects pushed their own wheelchairs on a level surface and at 3 and 6 degree grades using both types of handrims. Use of the flexible handrim significantly reduced wrist and finger flexor activity when averaged across all grade conditions. This suggests that over a period of years flexible handrims may be a factor in preserving upper extremity health.
There is level 4 evidence (from one case series study; Richter et al. 2006) that a flexible handrim will reduce wrist and finger flexor activity during wheelchair propulsion.
- Use of flexible handrims may reduce upper extremity strain during wheelchair propulsion.