Physical activity levels and shoulder pain in wheelchair users during COVID-19 restrictions

Martin B Warner, Barry S Mason, Victoria L Goosey-Tolfrey, Nick Webborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Manual wheelchair users are at high risk of developing shoulder pain. However, it is not known if restrictions to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus affected physical activity, wheelchair use and shoulder pain. Objective: The aim of the study is to determine whether COVID-19 related restrictions caused changes in physical activity levels and the presence of shoulder pain in persons who use a wheelchair. Methods: Manual wheelchair users completed a survey about the presence and severity of shoulder pain in a cross-sectional study design. Participants completed the Leisure Time Physical Activity Questionnaire and were asked about daily wheelchair activity before and during lockdown. A logistic regression examined the relationship between increase in shoulder pain severity and change in activity levels. Results: Sixty respondents were included for analysis. There was no significant change in physical activity during lockdown. There was a significant reduction in number of hours of daily wheelchair use and number of chair transfers during lockdown. Of the respondents, 67% reported having shoulder pain and 22% reported their shoulder pain becoming more severe during lockdown. No significant relationship was observed between the change in activity levels and increasing severity of shoulder pain. Conclusion: Restrictions to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus resulted in no changes in physical activity levels in a sample of adult manual wheelchair users; however, there was a reduced time using a wheelchair each day and fewer chair transfers. The changes in wheelchair activities were not related to the worsening of shoulder pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101326
Number of pages5
JournalDisability and health journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis Versus Arthritis .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)


  • COVID19
  • Physical activity
  • Shoulder pain
  • Wheelchair


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