Because manual wheelchair users primarily use their upper extremities as primary movers for transfers and mobility, one to two thirds of full-time wheelchair users report upper extremity pain. This type of pain decreases independence and quality of life while increasing the need for medical management.
While transfers in and out of wheelchairs are obvious contributors to upper extremity pain, age is also an important risk factor to consider. Advanced age strengthens the need for the lightest and most customizable wheelchair. Clinicians must evaluate all factors when recommending wheelchairs for patients.
Ultralight wheelchairs include a fully adjustable axle that allow clinicians to optimally position the rear wheel so there is less shoulder internal rotation, decreased force, rolling resistance and propulsion frequency. Additionally, push angles and pushrim access are increased, improving overall efficiency. All of these benefits lessen the required repetitive motions for full-time wheelchair users, thus reducing the upper extremity pain.
Clinicians should also be educating new and existing wheelchair users on stroke patterning, transfer technique education and preventative therapeutic exercises. These exercises can increase a user’s ability to handle the daily demands of wheelchair mobility with muscle groups not accustomed to being primary movers.
Ultra-lightweight wheelchairs preserve comfort, function and independence. Learn more about the upper extremity pain full-time wheelchair users face and the benefits of prescribing ultra-lightweight wheelchairs in our online library in a clinical paper from Numotion.