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Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Nancy Cicirello, MPH, PT

Second Advisor

Laurie Lundy-Ekman, PhD, PT


Background and Purpose. Assistive devices such as wheelchairs are used by children with mobility limitations and all over the world for the purpose of increasing independence and mobility. This freedom of mobility raises the issue of safety provided by either the manual or power wheelchair. Researchers have looked at the safety of manual and power wheelchairs separately and identified factors that increase aild decrease risks associated with wheelchair accidents. Currently there is no data comparing the level of safety between manual and power wheelchair use. The purpose of this study was to identify only differences in safety concerns between a manual versus a power wheelchair.

Methods. This study was conducted as a research survey and was distributed to parents of pediatric individuals who were wheelchair users. These children were living in the Portland metropolitan area and were independent in wheelchair mobility. The level of safety was determined by a numerical scale.

Results. As predicted, there was no statistically significant difference in safety between power and manual wheelchair use.

Conclusion and Discussion. Although no statistical significance was found in the total safety level, significant differences were found in individual safety questions: This data will be used to provide healthcare professionals, caregivers, and wheelchair manufactures information so that a safer wheelchair can be prescribed, designed, and distributed to children with mobility limitations.


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