Effects of Cross Slopes on the Mobility of Manual Wheelchair Users

Ana Souza, MS, PT1,2 ; Emily Teodorski, BS1,2 ; Michelle Sporner, MS1,2 ; Rory A. Cooper, PhD1,2

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


The purpose of this study was to identify if cross slope angles are more difficult to traverse compared to other common driving obstacles encountered by manual wheelchair users. Three cross slopes angles were presented to participants: mild, moderate and severe angles. One hundred and seven full time manual wheelchair users were recruited from the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) Wheelchair Users Registry.  Participants were given a questionnaire with pictures of different cross slope angles to compare to six different driving obstacles (e.g., 4 and 6 inch curbs). Results showed that, overall, cross slopes were harder to propel across than narrow and manual doors, and gravel in inclement weather conditions as well as through rough surfaces. Lastly, it was noted that among the three different cross slope angles, the most difficult one to traverse were found to be the ones with severe angles and those with compound angles (slope with cross-slope).


Manual wheelchair, cross slope, mobility impairment


We would like to acknowledge our research study funding source: US Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (TPD-ARC-07-00090).

Author Contact Information:

Ana E. Souza, MS, PT, Human Engineering Research Laboratories, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, 7180 Highland Drive, Building 4, 2nd Floor East Pittsburgh, PA 15206, (412) 952-5340, aes33@pitt.edu