Clinical note| Volume 74, ISSUE 1, P101-103, January 1993

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Platform motorized wheelchairs in congregate care centers: A survey of usage and safety

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      A survey of residents was done in three congregate care facilities to determine the prevalence and safety of platform motorized wheelchairs (PMWs) otherwise known as three-wheeled motorized wheelchairs or scooters. Thirty-one drivers of these vehicles were identified, 30 of whom consented to be interviewed. The mean age of the drivers was 80.7 years and 84% were women. Arthritis was the most frequent reason for use of the PMW (47%), followed by neurologic problems (23%) and orthopedic problems (23%). Of this group, 77% had their PMW prescribed by a physician, most commonly an orthopedic surgeon (40%) with only 14% being prescribed by a geriatrician or physiatrist. Thirty percent of the drivers felt other drivers in their facility drove unsafely. Most residents (57%) had no training in the use of the vehicle and two admitted they had a medical condition that made it difficult to drive. Five accidents were reported, two of which involved either a serious injury or property damage. Based on the results obtained from this survey, we conclude that driver safety evaluation should be done on all users of PMWs in congregate care facilities.


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