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J Exp Psychol Appl. 2004 Mar;10(1):55-66.

Visual estimation of spatial requirements for locomotion in novice wheelchair users.

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  • 1Yokohama National University, Japan. higuchit@comp.metro-u.ac.jp


Locomotion using a wheelchair requires a wider space than does walking. Two experiments were conducted to test the ability of nonhandicapped adults to estimate the spatial requirements for wheelchair use. Participants judged from a distance whether doorlike apertures of various widths were passable or not passable. Experiment 1 showed that participants underestimated the spatial requirements for wheelchair use but overestimated the spatial requirements for walking. Experiment 2 showed that their underestimation improved but was not completely eliminated after 8 days of practice passing through apertures. Analyses of wheelchair performance in the practice condition showed that the underestimation may have arisen from misperception of the positions of the hands when the participants were grasping the wheelchair hand-rims. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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