Curb descent testing of suspension manual wheelchairs.J Rehabil Res Dev. 2008; 45(1):73-84.JR
Manual wheelchair users are subjected to whole-body vibrations (WBV) on a regular basis as they traverse obstacles and uneven surfaces. One way users could protect themselves from secondary injuries related to WBV is by using a suspension manual wheelchair. This study investigated the ability of suspension manual wheelchairs to reduce seat accelerations during curb descents of various heights (5, 10, and 15 cm). Sixteen manual wheelchairs (four suspension, four folding, four rigid, and four rigid titanium) were tested. Suspension wheelchairs transmitted significantly lower peak seat accelerations than folding wheelchairs during the 5 cm curb descents (p = 0.048) and significantly lower frequency-weighted peak seat accelerations during the 5 and 10 cm curb descents (p = 0.03 for both heights). However, when the suspension wheelchair Quickie XTR (Sunrise Medical; Carlsbad, California) was removed from the analysis, the suspension wheelchairs were not significantly different from the nonsuspension wheelchairs. When weight was considered, the suspension wheelchairs had significantly lower peak seat accelerations than the lighter rigid wheelchairs during 5 cm curb descents (p = 0.047). While suspension manual wheelchairs offer some reduction in WBV during curb descents, their limitations should be considered when a wheelchair is selected for everyday use.