Handling Stairs in the Seated Position for People with Unilateral Lower-Limb Amputations

R. Lee Kirby, MD, Barbara A. Brown, MScPT, Christina M. Connolly, MScPT, Sarah McRae, MScPT, Pamela L. Phillips MScPT

Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Medicine (Kirby) and School of Physiotherapy (Brown, Connolly, McRae and Phillips), Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.



We tested the hypotheses that the seated stair-handling method enables people to ascend and descend stairs effectively, safely and with an acceptable exertion level. Prior to training, 3 (37.5%) participants were successful in ascending and descending a flight of 11 stairs. After a single 20-minute education session, all 8 (100%) were successful, but only 7 (87.5%) when required to use the seated stair-handling method. There were no adverse events. Perceived exertion (Borg CR-10) ranged from 3-7.5 for ascent and 1-5.5 for descent. The seated stair-handling method is a generally effective, safe and well tolerated method.


wheelchairs; stair-climbing; amputees; motor skills

Correspondence to: Dr. R.L. Kirby, Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre Site, 1341 Summer Street, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4K4. E-mail: kirby@dal.ca.