Can a Service Dog Improve Wheelchair Skills? A Case Report

François Routhier, PEng, PhD, R Lee Kirby, MD, Louise Demers, OT(C), PhD, Frédéric Loiselle, OT(C), BSc, Isabelle Pervieux, OT, MSc, Geoffroy Hubbert, PT, BSc, and Noël Champagne, ED, MA Psy


The Wheelchair Skills Program (WSP) is an integrated system that includes elements for testing and training wheelchair users, clinicians and/or their caregivers. Nowhere in the WSP Version 3.2 Manual is there any indication about service dogs that assist physically handicapped people during activities of daily living. The objective of this case report is to present the experience of a 45-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis and the effect of a service dog on her wheelchair skills. Our observations show that we need to take service dogs and also the wheelchair users’ ability to interact with their dogs into consideration when assessing and training wheelchair skills, and that service dogs can be considered analogous to caregivers, with respect to the WSP.


Wheelchair skills, service dog, multiple sclerosis, case report

Contact Information:

François Routhier, PEng, PhD
Institut de réadaptation en déficience physique de Québec
525 boul. Hamel est
Québec, Canada, G1M 2S8


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