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Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2012 Sep;7(5):372-80. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2011.637283. Epub 2011 Nov 29.

The Smart Wheelchair: is it an appropriate mobility training tool for children with physical disabilities?

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  • 1Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Computing, Health and Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.



To describe the impact of a mobility training program using the Smart Wheelchair on the driving skills and psychosocial outcomes of children with physical disabilities.


A multiple case study design using mixed methods was used. Four children with physical disabilities were recruited through The Centre for Cerebral Palsy in Western Australia. The intervention was a 16 session Smart Wheelchair mobility training program. Data was collected using a quantitative driving skills assessment, field notes and qualitative parent interviews.


Three out of four children gained independence in at least three driving skills or more, whilst one child was competent with verbal prompts. Three out of four mothers reported positive changes in their child's confidence, motivation and affect.


The Smart Wheelchair has the ability to uncover learning potential and facilitate the recognition of abilities in children previously excluded from access to independent mobility. Given the significant limitation that restrictions in mobility pose to participation for children with physical disabilities, therapists must begin to understand the effectiveness of interventions such as the Smart Wheelchair. The descriptive findings of this study allow for future, more rigorous research, to be conducted on the effectiveness of the Smart Wheelchair as a mobility training tool.

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