AIM: Manual wheelchairs are commonly prescribed for older adults in nursing homes (NH). The extent of their utilisation being unknown may result in the prescription of standard wheelchairs. The purpose of this study was to quantify manual wheelchair use by nursing home residents.
METHODS: Seventy-two independent wheelchair users were recruited from four NH (two VA-affiliated and two private). A customised wheelchair data logger was attached to each participant's wheelchair for 1 month. Data were reduced and compared separately for VA- affiliated and private facilities by types of propulsion pattern (arms versus legs and the combination of arms and legs) using MANOVA.
RESULTS: Participants from the VA-affiliated facilities who used their arms were covering more distance (1451 m versus 806 m), with greater endurance (73 m versus 60 m) as compared to participants who used combination of arms and legs. However, no difference was observed between velocity of wheelchair propulsion between groups (0.48 m/s versus 0.58 m/s). For private facilities no notable difference was observed between the groups.
CONCLUSION: Older adults who live in NH and use of wheelchairs represent a diverse cohort. The efficacy of using an objective assessment method to measure the extent of use of wheelchairs was demonstrated in this study.