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Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2015;10(5):393-400. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2014.907367. Epub 2014 Apr 7.

A description of manual wheelchair skills training: current practices in Canadian rehabilitation centers.

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Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia , Vancouver, BC , Canada .



To describe current practices for manual wheelchair (MWC) skills training in Canadian rehabilitation centers.


An online survey was sent to practice leaders in occupational (OT) and physical therapy (PT) at 87 Canadian rehabilitation centers. Responses were solicited from individuals who could report about wheelchair skills training at facilities with at least 10 beds designated for rehabilitation. Thirty-four questions asked about: (1) demographics, (2) components of MWC training, (3) amount of MWC skills training, (4) use of validated programs and (5) perceived barriers to using validated programs. Data were analyzed using summary statistics.


About 68/87 responses were received primarily from OTs (42/68). Basic MWC skills training (e.g. wheel-locks) was consistently part of clinical practice (45/68), while advanced skills training (e.g. curb-cuts) was rare (8/68). On an average, 1-4 h of training was done (29/68). Validated training programs were used by 16/68, most of whom used them "rarely" (7/16). Common barriers to using validated programs were lack of time (43/68) and resources (39/68).


Learning to use a wheelchair is important for those with ambulation impairments because the wheelchair enables mobility and social participation. Providing opportunities for advanced wheelchair skills training may enhance mobility and social participation in a safe manner. Implications for Rehabilitation There is evidence confirming the benefits of a validated wheelchair skills program, yet most clinicians do no not use them. A variety of perceived barriers may help to explain the limited use of existing programs, such as time, resources and knowledge. Effective knowledge translation efforts may help alleviate some of these barriers, and novel wheelchair training approaches may alleviate some burden on clinicians to help accommodate the increasing number of older wheelchair users.


Clinical practice; manual wheelchair skills training; rehabilitation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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