BACKGROUND: This study applied EMG analysis methods to identify muscle group activity profiles and potential overload risks in powered wheelchair use. METHODS: We quantified muscle effort and fatigue using EMG analysis methods during powered wheelchair manoeuvres by 10 multiple sclerosis patients. Video recordings of the different sub-tasks were related to information on surface EMG amplitude (rectified EMG) and spectral information (Median frequency) from M. trapezius, M. deltoideus (pars medius), M. deltoideus (pars anterior), M. pectoralis, M. biceps, M. triceps, wrist extensors and flexors, using Joint Analysis of EMG Spectrum and Amplitude (JASA analysis). FINDINGS: Task durations and subjective data indicated that tasks requiring finer motor control took longer and were perceived as more difficult. Kinesiological functions of all muscle groups identified forward steering to be associated with activation of M. deltoideus (pars anterior), M. pectoralis, M. trapezius and M. deltoideus (pars medius); backwards steering with predominant activation of M. deltoideus (pars medius), M. biceps brachii and wrist flexors; left steering with maximal activation of M. biceps and wrist flexors, and right steering with maximal activation of M. triceps and wrist extensors. These profiles were confirmed in analysis of the functional tasks. JASA analysis documented muscle fatigue in the wrist extensors, whereas increased activation was found in M. trapezius, M. deltoideus (pars anterior) and wrist flexors. INTERPRETATION: EMG based kinesiological analysis gives insight in muscle activity and fatigue during powered wheelchair manoeuvres.