Relationship between Wheelchair Durability and Wheelchair Types and Test Years

Hongwu Wang, MS, Hsin-yi Liu, MS, Sam Connor, BS, Jon Pearlman, PhD, Alexandra Jefferds, BS and Rory A. Cooper PhD

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


Wheelchairs must be able to withstand normal wear and tear before being marketed for the safety of consumers. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) have developed standards that test for durability. In order to see whether the durability of the wheelchairs improved as the technology developed, a retrospective study was conducted to investigate the relation between the durability of wheelchairs and test years and wheelchair type. A sample of 246 wheelchairs that tested in accordance with the standards from 1992 to present was analyzed. There was no correlation between the year when tested and equivalent cycles. A modest relation was found between test results and wheelchair type with Scooters and power wheelchairs having higher pass/fail ratios than PAPAWs and manual wheelchairs. Wheelchair standard test should be conducted to assure minimum quality of the wheelchairs and for improving the design of wheelchairs.


The authors would like to acknowledge the faculty, staff and students in the Human Engineering Research Laboratories for their assistance. This research was supported in part by VA-RR&D grant# B3142C.

Author Contact Information:

Hongwu Wang, Human Engineering Research Labs, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA 15206; Phone: (412) 954-5322 Fax: (412) 954-5340,