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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Jun;91(6):463-9. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e31825ab5ec.

Increases in wheelchair breakdowns, repairs, and adverse consequences for people with traumatic spinal cord injury.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



The aims of this study were to report the current incidence of wheelchair breakdowns, repairs, and consequences and to compare current data with historical data.


A convenience sample survey of 723 participants with spinal cord injury who use a wheelchair for more than 40 hrs/wk treated at a Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems center was conducted.


Significant increases were found in the number of participants reporting repairs (7.8%) and adverse consequences (23.5%) in a 6-mo period (2006-2011) compared with historical data (2004-2006) (P < 0.001). When examining current data, minorities experienced a greater frequency and higher number of reported consequences (P = 0.03). Power wheelchair users reported a higher number of repairs and consequences than did manual wheelchair users (P < 0.001). Wheelchairs equipped with seat functions were associated with a greater frequency of adverse consequences (P = 0.01). Repairs did not vary across funding source, but individuals with wheelchairs provided by Medicare and Medicaid reported a higher frequency of consequences than did the combined group of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Worker's Compensation, and the Veterans Administration (P = 0.034 and P = 0.013, respectively).


The incidence and consequences of repairs are increasing from what was already a very high statistic in this United States population. Further investigation into causality is required, and intervention is needed to reverse this potential trend.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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