Introduction: Wheelchair fit and prescription are central in the rehabilitation process of a spinal cord injured client with an impaired walking ability. The knowledge and consequences of wheelchair use in active wheelchair users is deficient, which might lead to unnecessary problems and disabilities.
Objective: The general aim of the research underlying this thesis was to increase and deepen the knowledge of wheelchair use, considering both mobility and seating aspects.
Methods: The thesis includes five different studies, two of them with a focus on wheelchair mobility, two with a focus on secondary complications common in wheelchair users and one intervention study with a focus on wheelchair seating. Methods used to measure and describe wheelchair use from mobility and seating aspects are well-standardized, valid and reliable methods, custom-made newly developed forms and client estimations.
Results: The power output and mechanical efficiency of wheelchair propulsion was found to be low compared to arm-crank ergometry in a group of experienced wheelchair users. Another study found that it was not possible to affect this mechanical efficiency in a uniform positive way, by a change in rear-wheel position. A significant change in propulsion technique was found which, however, did not correlate to physical effort. Secondary complications such as back pain, spinal defonnities and shoulder pain were common in clients with a spinal cord injury. In the intervention study a change in seating prerequisites had a positive effect on estimated seating comfort, posture and activity.
Conclusion: Wheelchair propulsion and seating mean high physical and musculoskeletal load on the individual with a risk for secondary complications. A prescriber of hand-rim wheelchairs to clients who will spend many years in their wheelchairs has a major responsibility to understand and use available knowledge, to carefully examine the physical prerequisites of each client, and to interrelate these findings to individual needs and wishes. There is a great need for continuous development of new methods and knowledge in this area in order to avoid unnecessary complications due to wheelchair use. There is also a need for new thinking in the construction and design of new wheelchairs.
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2002. , 70 p.