Prevalence and Impact of Wheelchair Breakdowns on Fulltime Wheelchair Users

Laura McClure, MPT 1, 3 ; Michael L. Boninger, MD1, 2 ; Michelle Oyster, MS1,2 ; Jesse Lieberman, MD3

1 Human Engineering Research Laboratories, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA
2 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pittsburgh
3 Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh


Wheelchair repairs and associated adverse consequences can have a large impact on full time wheelchair users by decreasing independence and threatening health and safety. This cross sectional study evaluated the prevalence of wheelchair repairs during a 6 month period on 2213 wheelchair users. Consequences associated with repairs were also examined. Results indicate that 44.8% of the population required at least one repair in a 6 month period and 8.7% experienced an adverse event. Power wheelchairs were found to require significantly more repairs and users experienced significantly more adverse events compared to manual wheelchairs. It is important that wheelchair vendors and clinicians are aware of the high prevalence of repairs and adverse consequences in order to educate their clients on potential problems. In addition, mandatory enforcement of ANSI/RESNA standards may help to decrease the number of adverse consequences.


Spinal Cord Injury, Wheelchair, Repairs, ANSI/RESNA standards


This study was supported by the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on SCI (H133N060019) and Interdisciplinary Research Training in Assistive Technology. (DGE0333420)


Laura McClure, Human Engineering Research Laboratories,7180 Highland Dr., Building 4 151 R-1H Pittsburgh, PA 15206, 412-954-5315,