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Original Research Articles

Quantitative Exploratory Evaluation of the Frequency, Causes and Consequences of Rehabilitation Wheelchair Breakdowns delivered at a Paediatric Clinic in Mexico

Authors:

Maria Luisa Toro,

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology, University of Pittsburgh, PA; Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Pittsburgh, PA, US
About Maria Luisa

Maria is a PhD student in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh and is a native of Colombia. Maria received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering in 2007 at la Escuela de Ingenieria de Antioquia and Universidad CES and her M.Sc. in Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2011.

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Yasmin Garcia,

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology, University of Pittsburgh, PA; Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Pittsburgh, PA, US
About Yasmin

Received her BS in Biomedical Engineering and a Diploma Degree in Rehabilitation Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City in 2006 and 2007, respectively. During her undergraduate studies she worked in designing and developing several assistive technologies for people with a broad variety of disabilities. After graduating, she worked at the Centro de Ingenieria y Tecnologia de Rehabilitacion (CITeR) in the same university. She received her MS in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh in April, 2012.

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Alejandra Manoela Ojeda,

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology, University of Pittsburgh, PA; Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Pittsburgh, PA
About Alejandra Manoela

Received her bachelor degree in Industrial Engineering from Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM). Mexico City 2004. Her BS thesis project involved the development of a device for the automatic measurement of urine. She participated in a social integration program for seven years at CRIT (Children Rehabilitation Center Teleton). She is currently pursuing a MS Degree in Rehabilitation Science and Technology and has been involved on wheelchair user's biomechanics and biostatistics testing and analysis.

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David J Dausey,

Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health, Erie, PA, US
About David J

Received his bachelor degree in psychology from Mercyhurst College and received his master and doctoral degrees in epidemiology and public health from Yale University. He completed postgraduate training in higher education management and leadership at Harvard University. He is the chair of the Public Health Department at Mercyhurst College and a tenured Professor of Public Health. He is the founding director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health. His research focuses on program evaluation of public health programs and initiatives.

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Jon Pearlman

Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Pittsburgh, PA, US
About Jon

Received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, his M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University with a focus in Biomechanics, and his PhD in Rehabilitation Science and Technology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Science. He currently works as a faculty researcher at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories. His research focus is on understanding and improving assistive technology transfer to developing nations.

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Abstract

Purpose: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises assistive technology such as wheelchairs (WCs) as a tool for social inclusion for this population. In less resourced settings, organisations lack information about effective models of WC service provision.  The goal of this study was to investigate the lifespan of WCs and whether they provided reliable mobility, at one clinic in Mexico.

Methods: Caregivers of children, who had requested replacements for their WCs from a clinic in Mexico, were interviewed in Spanish. Among others, the questions pertained to repairs/modifications, adverse events and WC usage characteristics. The owners exchanged their WCs for new ones at the clinic, and the maintenance status of each returned WC was evaluated using the WC Assessment Checklist (WAC).

Results: Twenty-three donated WCs, used by children aged 3 to 14 years for an average of 19 months, were evaluated.  Brakes (n=18), seat and back-sling upholstery (n=11 and 7 respectively), and armrests (n=14) were the components that failed most frequently. A total of 26 adverse events due to WC failure were reported. Adverse events were significantly associated with poor WAC scores (rs=-0.544, p=0.007).

Conclusions: Poor WC reliability, associated with adverse events which could undermine social engagement, indicates the need for a stronger WC and for regular maintenance. For instance, brake failures which were most often associated with adjustment issues, could have been resolved with maintenance, while seat and back-sling upholstery and armrest failures suggest that the WC may not be appropriate for the environment.  Future work should investigate the robustness of these WCs using standardised methods (ISO 7176), as well as the impact of maintenance interventions on WC reliability.

How to Cite: Toro, M.L., Garcia, Y., Ojeda, A.M., Dausey, D.J. and Pearlman, J., 2012. Quantitative Exploratory Evaluation of the Frequency, Causes and Consequences of Rehabilitation Wheelchair Breakdowns delivered at a Paediatric Clinic in Mexico. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 23(3), pp.48–64. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v23i3.167
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Published on 05 Dec 2012.

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