Wheel chair Selection

Nitz JC, Bullock MI. Wheelchair design for people with neuromuscular disability. Aust J Physiother. 1983 Apr;29(2):43-7

The observation that wheelchairs often failed to provide the mobility and support needed by patients with neuromuscular disability facilitated this study. Three groups of subjects with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and muscular dystrophy were examined to determine their various disabilities and anthropometric measurement. These were then compared with wheelchair dimensions in an endeavour to determine whether the problem was wheelchair design or poor prescription. An evaluation of wheelchair use was also included. Results showed that several wheelchair dimensions including seat depth, arm rest height, backrest height and lack of contour support failed to match the sample population, indicating the need for greater care in selection of wheelchairs for patients with neuromuscular disabilities in addition to the need for design revision.

If you went into a shoe shop you would not buy a pair of shoes that doesn’t fit, so make sure your set of wheels are fit for purpose for your needs.

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  • The wheel chair in the illustration looks quite snazzy. All mobility aids seem to be so clunky looking and often have design flaws (I am thinking o the way a rollator cannot deal satisfactorily with anything other than a completely smooth surface, no sideways inclines or bumps etc). When I see pushchairs I think those designers should be set loose on wheelchair design and bring it into the 21st century! Or maybe a different approach should be sought – one where hands are still free to carry things?

  • I completely agree with getting designers of "able-bodied" related products involved in designing for disability support. Automotive / Cycling engineers should take a look at wheelchairs, scooters and rollators (especially suspension and the ability to swap wheels etc for different uses)

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