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Patients' and health care providers' knowledge of wheelchair transportation issues

In: Assistive Technology. 21:35-46, 2009.

Authors: Lori Brinkey, Christopher Savoie, Edward A. Hurvitz, Carol Flannagan

The objective of this study was to determine the level of knowledge about wheelchair transportation safety practices among wheelchair users (WCUs) and caregivers, therapists, physicians, and other professionals (CTPs). Two 10-question surveys were designed. One was administered to a convenience sample of 107 WCUs, average age 31 years (range: 4 to 86). Diagnoses included cerebral palsy (39%), spinal cord injury (19%), and others. The second was given to a convenience sample of 87 caregivers (33%), therapists (27%), physicians (18%), and others. Results indicated that most WCUs (67%) and about half of the CTPs had not received education about best transportation practices. Less than 20%?in either group had heard of the transit option or a transit wheelchair, and less than 7%?were aware of SAE J2249 and ANSI-RESNA WC/19 standards for wheelchairs and transportation. Sixty-seven percent of WCUs and 46%?of CTPs felt lack of knowledge restricted their use of best transportation practices, followed by cost and vehicle space. Education about best practices was related to increased knowledge as well as increased use of occupant and wheelchair restraints. We concluded that there is a poor level of knowledge about wheelchair transportation safety practices among WCUs, caregivers, and professionals who prescribe wheelchairs. This knowledge deficit leads to a lack of standardized transport and a potential compromise of safety. Education can be beneficial, and should be pursued.

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