A Preliminary Study on the Impact of Pushrim-Activated Power-Assist Wheelchairs Among Individuals with Tetraplegia

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This preliminary study was to evaluate the impact of pushrim- activated power-assist wheelchairs (PAPAWs) on mobility, community participation, satisfaction, and psychosocial impact among individuals with tetraplegia.


Fifteen manual wheelchair users with tetraplegia completed a 4-wk protocol including a 2-wk trial where they used their personal wheelchairs for mobility and a 2-wk trial where they were provided with a PAPAW and could choose either wheelchair for mobility. The mobility levels with both wheelchairs were recorded by a datalogger. Participants completed daily questionnaires regarding community participation and their satisfaction with the wheelchair used. The Psychosocial Impact of Assistive Devices Scale was used to compare the psychosocial impact of PAPAWs with their personal wheelchairs.


Participants chose to use PAPAWs and their personal wheelchairs at a similar frequency in the PAPAW trial. The distances traveled with both wheelchairs were not statistically different (P = 0.09). Participants traveled significantly faster with PAPAWs (P = 0.03). PAPAWs did not result in significantly greater community participation, satisfaction, and psychosocial impacts than the personal wheelchairs.


PAPAWs could be a viable mobility option for individuals with tetraplegia, which can provide independent mobility especially for outdoor activities. A user's preference, life style, physical conditions, transportation issues, and environmental factors should be considered in prescribing such a device.

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