OBJECTIVE: To quantify wheelchair mobility of persons with a spinal cord injury (SCI), and to assess the relationship between wheelchair mobility and demographics, type of manual wheelchair, and participation.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.
SETTING: Six Model Spinal Cord Injury Systems.
PARTICIPANTS: People (N=132) with SCI who use a manual wheelchair as their primary means of mobility.
INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Wheelchair-related mobility characteristics measured by a data-logging device, and community participation measured by the short form of the Craig Handicap Assessment Recording Technique (CHART).
RESULTS: Age was found to be significantly (r=-.225, P<.01) related to average speed traveled per day. Whites were found to travel significantly further (P<.01) and accumulate more minutes per day (P<.01) compared with minorities. Participants who were employed traveled significantly further (P<.01), faster (P<.01), and for more minutes per day (P<.01) compared with those who were not employed. A moderate relationship (r=.245-.390) was found between wheelchair mobility data and CHART total score.
CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest a need for future investigation of the factors that influence wheelchair mobility and community participation of persons with SCI. Findings indicate the efficacy of a quantitative method to track wheelchair mobility in community settings, which could serve as a way of identifying community participation for persons with SCI and possibly uncovering additional aspects of participation.