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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Jun;91(6):511-8. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e3182555e4c.

The accuracy of new wheelchair users' predictions about their future wheelchair use.

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  • 1Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27705, USA.



This study examined the accuracy of new wheelchair user predictions about their future wheelchair use.


This was a prospective cohort study of 84 community-dwelling veterans provided a new manual wheelchair.


The association between predicted and actual wheelchair use was strong at 3 mos (ϕ coefficient = 0.56), with 90% of those who anticipated using the wheelchair at 3 mos still using it (i.e., positive predictive value = 0.96) and 60% of those who anticipated not using it indeed no longer using the wheelchair (i.e., negative predictive value = 0.60, overall accuracy = 0.92). Predictive accuracy diminished over time, with overall accuracy declining from 0.92 at 3 mos to 0.66 at 6 mos. At all time points, and for all types of use, patients better predicted use as opposed to disuse, with correspondingly higher positive than negative predictive values. Accuracy of prediction of use in specific indoor and outdoor locations varied according to location.


This study demonstrates the importance of better understanding the potential mismatch between the anticipated and actual patterns of wheelchair use. The findings suggest that users can be relied upon to accurately predict their basic wheelchair-related needs in the short-term. Further exploration is needed to identify characteristics that will aid users and their providers in more accurately predicting mobility needs for the long-term.

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