Support for Clinicians

Information for clinicians to help with recommending Loopwheels, based on research evidence.

Whole Body Vibration has long been proven to present health risks, which is why the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has published several guidelines on levels of vibration exposure and their relationship to health outcomes. Many research studies over many years have shown that too much exposure of the human body to whole body vibration can be detrimental to health. Specifically, ISO 2631 defines WBV exposure from a seated position.

There is evidence based on a number of studies that back and neck pain, and also fatigue, result from too much exposure to WBV among wheelchair-users.

Whole Body Vibration (WBV) is typically characterised by both low impact, long-term vibrations and high impact, short-term shocks (eg driving over a gravel road vs hitting a pothole on a smooth road, respectively).

Given the risk of health consequences associated with WBV, we were very interested when Loopwheels users started telling us in 2017 that one of the benefits they find from Loopwheels is reduced vibration.

We therefore started our own testing to measure whether Loopwheels reduce vibration compared with other wheel types – and they do. We then looked more deeply into published studies on the effects of WBV on wheelchair users, and in 2022 we published a summary of our literature review to combine evidence on back pain and fatigue.

We have blog posts on this subject: Fatigue in wheelchair users and Do people who use a wheelchair get more back pain?

University of Pittsburgh: Effects of In-Wheel Suspension on Whole-Body Vibration and Comfort in Manual Wheelchair Users

In April 2024, the first independent study reported on its findings of a comparative study between Loopwheels, standard spoked wheels and Spinergy CLX wheels. The University of Pittsburgh team set up a study to test these three types of wheels when used by wheelchair users manually propelling over 9 different surface types.

The study concluded that Loopwheels are effective at reducing both vibration and shock:

  • Loopwheels lowered vibrations by 10% at the backrest compared to the standard and CLX wheels, and by 7% at the footrest compared to the CLX wheels
  • Loopwheels also reduced shocks by 7% at the backrest compared to the standard wheel and CLX. 
  • Assuming a Manual Wheelchair User occupies their wheelchair for an average of 13 hours a day, a 7-10% reduction in backrest and footrest vibration would reduce the amount of exposure to harmful Whole Body Vibration by around an hour, and potentially increase the amount of time a manual wheelchair user can safely push before it becomes it becomes hazardous to health.

You can access the full paper in the downloads – alongside other research evidence, test results and our guide to clinical indications for Loopwheels.

MDR (medical device regulations)

As an accessory to a wheelchair, Loopwheels are classified as a Medical Device, Class 1, for the purposes of MDR (EU) 2017 / 745 and equivalent medical regulations in the UK and Switzerland.

Our MDR documentation can be found under Support for Trade Customers.

Downloads

University of Pittsburgh paper 30 April 2024

Back pain and fatigue combined evidence – 2022

Clinical Indications Leaflet 2019 (EN)

Clinical Indications Leaflet 2019 (FR)

Clinical Indications Leaflet 2019 (IT)

Clinical Indications Leaflet 2019 (NL)