Longitudinal Assessment of Vibrations during Electric Powered Wheelchair Propulsion over Selected Sidewalk Surfaces

RESNA 28th Annual Conference - Atlanta, Georgia

Erik J. Wolf MS, Rory A. Cooper PhD, Jon Pearlman MS, Diane Collins PhD, Annmarie Kelleher OTR/L

VA R&D Center of Excellence for Wheelchairs and Related Technologies, VA Medical Center, Highland Drive, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Departments of Bioengineering and Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania


Electric powered wheelchair users rely on their wheelchairs for mobility for extended periods of time every day. According to the International Standards Organization 2631-1 standard on human vibration, individuals in a seated position are at risk of injury due to whole-body vibrations when exposed for long durations. The goals of this research were to evaluate vibration exposure during powered wheelchair driving over six sidewalk surfaces and differences over three years. Ten unimpaired subjects were recruited in three consecutive years, and were asked to drive an electric powered wheelchair over six surfaces at 1 m/s and 2 m/s, while whole-body vibrations were measured at the seat of the wheelchair. At 1 m/s significant differences existed between the surfaces (p<.0001) however there were no significant differences between years (p=.088). At 2 m/s there were significant differences between both surfaces (p<.0001) and years (p=.021).


Wheelchairs, Vibration, Injury, Sidewalks, Accessible Surface

Erik J. Wolf, MS
University of Pittsburgh
7180 Highland Drive, 151R-1
Pittsburgh, PA, 15206
Phone: (412) 365-4850
Email: wolfe@herlpitt.org