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From JRRD Vol. 44, Issue 4

Journal of Rehabilitation Research

Does the RT3 accelerometer spell the end of pen-and-paper questionnaires/

Here is a great thought...the arduous task of filling out boring questionnaires may soon be obsolete! Well, at least for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) whose activity levels must be monitored by doctors. Thanks to the RT3 accelerometer, MS patients can discreetly monitor their activity without the hassle of keeping a journal or completing activity questionnaires. The RT3 is a small triaxial monitor that measures the amount of exercise its wearer performs in a given amount of time. Put simply, the RT3 is a pedometer that measures acceleration along three anatomical axes; not only does it measure the amount of exercise, but it also measures the intensity of movement. The RT3 is touted as being the most accurate of its kind, but, how accurate is it really" Also curious, researchers at the Centre for Physiotherapy Research at the University of Otago in New Zealand conducted a pilot study to investigate the test-retest reliability of the RT3. The study, which used 10 participants with a definite diagnosis of MS and 10 nondisabled adults as the control group, concluded that, despite some possible measurement errors, the RT3 consistently measures walking. Good-bye pens and paper...For more information about this study, read "Reliability of RT3 accelerometer for measuring mobility in people with multiple sclerosis: Pilot study" in this month's JRRD at www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/07/44/4/pdf/hale.pdf.


Exercise...who really gets it?

You have seen advertisements for exercise machines, countless sneaker sales, and probably have a few gym membership coupons lying around. But, how much exercise are Americans really getting" Only 15 percent of Americans are estimated to achieve the recommended level of physical activity. And according to a University of Pittsburgh study, people with disabilities get even less. The study, in which, 52 manual wheelchair users completed a brief survey and had their activity monitored with a custom data logger for 13 or 20 days, found that subjects traveled significantly farther and faster during the National Veterans Wheelchair Games than on an average day. The research team also discovered that employed wheelchair users exercised more than their unemployed counterparts. However, in the home environment, no matter their job status, wheelchair users were found to have little to no activity. For more information on this study, read "Assessing mobility characteristics and activity levels of manual wheelchair users" in this month's JRRD at www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/07/44/4/pdf/tolerico.pdf


The subtle dangers of America's sidewalks

While most ambulatory Americans are not concerned with the impact of various walking surfaces, for wheelchair users, driving over old cobblestone, poorly paved pathways, or rocky roads can be detrimental. Uneven surfaces coupled with extensive use can expose wheelchair users to harmful whole-body vibrations (WBV). While intentional WBV is useful for workout preparation, unintentional WBV can lead to secondary injuries such as low-back and neck pain, muscle aches, and fatigue. In a longitudinal assessment by researchers from the University of Pittsburg, 10 nondisabled subjects drove manual and power wheelchairs over nine sidewalk surfaces during a period of 3 years. The study concluded that WBV are unavoidable because of the nature of the wheelchair. For wheelchairs to effectively negate the effects of transmitted vibrations, the International Standards Organization requires an 8-hour rest period each day. However, because wheelchair users depend on their wheelchairs for all of their mobility, most find meeting that requirement difficult and are therefore exposed to WBV. Researchers also concluded that surfaces other than poured concrete, for example, interlocking concrete pavement and brick, should be considered for pedestrian access routes. Could the smooth, gray concrete that covers most of the nation's sidewalks be problematic for the thousands of American wheelchair users" For more information, read "Longitudinal assessment of vibrations during manual and power wheelchair driving over select sidewalk surfaces" in this months' JRRD at www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/07/44/4/pdf/wolf.pdf.

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About JRRD

The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development (JRRD) is a peer-reviewed, scientifically indexed journal providing comprehensive coverage of all rehabilitation disciplines. JRRD has been a trusted resource for clinicians, people with disabilities, and researchers for more than 40 years. JRRD is available online at www.rehab.research.va.gov and in print free of charge.

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