Research Papers

User-Centered Design Customization of Rugby Wheelchairs Based on the Taguchi Method

[+] Author and Article Information
Clara C. Usma-Alvarez, Aleksandar Subic

School of Aerospace, Mechanical, and
Manufacturing Engineering,
RMIT University,
P.O. Box 71,
Melbourne VIC 3083, Australia

Franz K. Fuss

School of Aerospace, Mechanical, and
Manufacturing Engineering,
RMIT University,
P.O. Box 71,
Melbourne VIC 3083, Australia
e-mail: franz.fuss@rmit.edu.au

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Automation Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received July 8, 2012; final manuscript received November 3, 2013; published online January 17, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Matthew B. Parkinson.

J. Mech. Des 136(4), 041001 (Jan 17, 2014) (13 pages) Paper No: MD-12-1349; doi: 10.1115/1.4026029 History: Received July 08, 2012; Revised November 03, 2013

Competitive wheelchair sport performance is dependent on three factors: the athlete, the wheelchair, and the interaction between the athlete and the wheelchair (Goosey-Tolfrey, 2010, “Supporting the Paralympic Athlete: Focus on Wheeled Sports,” Disabil Rehabil., 32(26), pp. 2237–2243). In order to effectively refine the user interphase design of the wheelchair, it is essential to narrow down the key dimensions within the design space, which are likely to have an effect on the performance of an individual athlete. This paper provides a case study analysis of the test data obtained from five elite wheelchair rugby athletes, using a purpose-built adjustable wheelchair on a wheelchair ergometer. Four design factors (wheel diameter, camber angle, seat height, and camber bar depth) were tested at incremental dimensional levels to the athlete's current chair configuration; and tests were performed according to an L9 Taguchi orthogonal array. The case study analyzes acceleration, velocity, and time in the push phase of the propulsion cycle; as well as recovery time for each of the participating athletes performing a linear sprint task. The Taguchi method is applied to determining the positive/negative contribution of each of the four design factors to the outlined performance variables as well as their combined effect in a specific wheelchair configuration model. A performance ranking system and magnitude-based inferences on the true value of the effect statistic are used to define a high performance design space for individual athlete wheelchairs. Finally, the athlete's preferred ergonomics are considered to assess the narrowed high performance wheelchair options. As such, when adopting the approach presented in this paper, it becomes possible to customize an athlete's wheelchair design to meet the athlete's anthropometric needs as well as their performance requirements.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Goosey-Tolfrey, V. L., 2010, “Supporting the Paralympic Athlete: Focus on Wheeled Sports,” Disabil. Rehabil., 32(26), pp. 2237–2243. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Usma-Alvarez, C. C., Fuss, F. K., and Subic, A., 2011, “Effects of Rugby Wheelchair Design on Output Velocity and Acceleration,” 5th Asia-Pacific Congress of Sports Technology, Procedia Engineering, Vol. 13, pp. 315–321.
Usma-Alvarez, C. C., Subic, A., Burton, M., and Fuss, F. K., 2010, “Identification of Design Requirements for Rugby Wheelchairs Using the QFD Method,” 8th Conference of the International Sports Engineering Association (ISEA), Procedia Engineering, Vol. 2, Issue 2, pp. 2749–2755.
Faupin, A., Campillo, P., Weissland, T., Gorce, P., and Thevenon, A., 2004, “The Effects of Rear-Wheel Camber on the Mechanical Parameters Produced During the Wheelchair Sprinting of Handibasketball Athletes,” J. Rehabil. Res. Dev., 41(3B), pp. 421–428. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Kotajarvi, B. R., Sabick, M. B., An, K.-N., Zhao, K. D., Kaufman, K. R., and Basford, J. R., 2004, “The Effect of Seat Position on Wheelchair Propulsion Biomechanics,” J. Rehabil. Res. Dev., 41(3B), pp. 403–414. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Burton, M., Fuss, F. K., and Subic, A., 2010, “Sports Wheelchair Technologies,” Sports Technol., 3(3), pp. 154–167.
Vegter, R. J., De Groot, S., Hettinga, S. F. J., Veeger, D. H., and Van Der Woude, L. H. V., 2013, “Wheelchair (Design of a Manually Propelled Wheelchair: Optimizing a Wheelchair-User Combination),” Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange, Available at, http://cirrie.buffalo.edu/encyclopedia/en/article/191/
Mason, B. S., 2011, The Ergonomics of Wheelchair Configuration for Optimal Sport Performance, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK, Vol. 43, Issue 1, pp.23–38.
Vanlandewijck, Y., Daly, D. J., and Theisen, D. M., 2001, “Wheelchair Propulsion Biomechanics: Implications for Wheelchair Sports,” Sports Med., 31(5), pp. 339–367. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Laferrier, J. Z., Rice, I., Pearlman, J., Sporner, M., Cooper, R. M., Liu, H., and Cooper, R. A., 2012, “Technology to Improve Sports Performance in Wheelchair Sports,” Sport Technol., 5(1-2), pp. 4–19 (Special Issue: Paralympic Sports Technology).
Melrose Kiwi Concept Chairs, 2013, Custom Made Wheelchairs—Melrose Rugby, Available at, http://www.melrosechairs.co.nz/custommade/rugby.html
Yang, K., Teo, E.-C., and Fuss, F. K., 2007, “Application of Taguchi Method in Optimization of Cervical Ring Cage,” J. Biomech., 40(14), pp. 3251–3256. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Herrmann, D. K., 2009, “Application of Multiparameter Optimization for Robust Product Design,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 131(2), pp. 024501. [CrossRef]
Otto, K. N., and Antonsson, E. K., 1993, “Tuning Parameters in Engineering Design,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 115(1), pp. 14–19. [CrossRef]
Otto, K. N., and Antonsson, E. K., 1993, “Extensions to the Taguchi Method of Product Design,” ASME J. Mech. Des., 115(1), pp. 5–13. [CrossRef]
Batterham, A. M., and Hopkins, W. G., 2005, “Making Meaningful Inferences about Magnitudes,” Sportscience, 9(1), pp. 6–13.
Unal, R., and Dean, E. B., 1991, “Taguchi Approach to Design Optimization for Quality and Cost: An Overview,” 13th Annual Conference of the International Society of Parametric Analysts, ISPA, New Orleans, LA.
Yang, K., 2007, Optimization and Biomechanical Analysis of Cervical Ring Cage by Finite Element Method, School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, p. 194.
Järveläinen, K., 2008, Kinematic Differences between Three Wheelchair Racers (T54) in Sprint Start, Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland, p. 54.
Fuss, F. K., 2009, “Influence of Mass on the Speed of Wheelchair Racing,” Sports Eng., 12(1), pp. 41–53. [CrossRef]
Chua, J. J. C., Fuss, F. K., and Subic, A., 2011, “Non-linear Rolling Friction of a Tyre-Caster System: Analysis of a Rugby Wheelchair, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part C,” J. Mech. Eng. Sci., 225(C4), pp. 1015–1020.
Ranjit, K. R., 2010, A Primer on the Taguchi Method, 2nd ed., Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Dearborn, MI, p. 300.
Taguchi, G., 1993, “Taguchi on Robust Technology Development: Bringing Quality Engineering Upstream,” International Advances in Design Productivity, K. M.Ragsdell, ed., ASME Press (American Society of Mechanical Engineers), New York, p. 136.
Montgomery, D. C., 2008, Introduction to Statistical Quality Control, 6th ed., John Wiley & Sons, New York.
Taguchi, G., Konishi, S., and Konishi, S., 1987, Taguchi Methods Orthogonal Arrays and Linear Graphs: Tools for Quality Engineering, American Supplier Institute Inc., Bingham Farms, MI, p. 72.
StatSoft, I. Electronic Statistics Textbook: F-Distribution Table, Available at, http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/distribution-tables/-f05
International Wheelchair Rugby Federation Technical Commission, 2011, IWRF Classification Manual, 3rd ed., Revised 2011, Available at, http://www.iwrf.com/?page=rules_and_documents
Lowry, R.2012, VassarStats: Statistical Computation Website, Available at, http://vassarstats.net/
Hopkins, W. G., 2010, “Linear Models and Effect Magnitudes for Research, Clinical and Practical Applications,” Sportscience, 14(1), pp. 49–57.
Hopkins, W. G., 2007, A Spreadsheet for Deriving a Confidence Interval, Mechanistic Inference and Clinical Inference from a p Value,” Sportscience, 11(1), pp. 16–20.
Mason, B. S., Porcellato, L., Van Der Woude, L. H. V., and Goosey-Tolfrey, V. L., 2010, “A Qualitative Examination of Wheelchair Configuration for Optimal Mobility Performance in Wheelchair Sports: A pilot Study,” J. Rehabil. Med., 42(2), pp. 141–149. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Bregman, D. J. J., Van Drongelen, S. V., and Veeger, H., 2009, “Is Effective Force Application in Handrim Wheelchair Propulsion also Efficient?” Clin. Biomech., 24(1), pp. 13–19. [CrossRef]
Masse, L. C., Lamontagne, M., and O'Riain, M. D., 1992, “Biomechanical Analysis of Wheelchair Propulsion for Various Seating Positions,” J. Rehabil. Res. Dev., 29(3), pp. 12–28. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Van der Woude, L. H. V., Veeger, H. E. J., Rozendal, R., and Sargeant, T., 2009, “Seat Height: Effects on Submaximal Hand Rim Wheelchair Performance During Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation,” J. Rehabil. Med., 41(3), pp. 143–149. [CrossRef] [PubMed]


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

(a) Propulsion phases (b) comparison of velocity curves

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Experimental set-up

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

(a) Influence of significant factors on push phase acceleration axp (m/s2), (b) influence of significant factors on push phase velocity vp (m/s), (c) influence of significant factors on push time tp (s), (d) influence of significant factors on recovery time tr (s)



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In