Original research| Volume 97, ISSUE 10, P1761-1769, October 2016

Wheelchair Skills Capacity and Performance of Manual Wheelchair Users With Spinal Cord Injury



      To describe the wheelchair skills capacity and performance of experienced manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury (SCI) and to assess measurement properties of the Wheelchair Skills Test (WST) and Wheelchair Skills Test Questionnaire (WST-Q).


      Cross-sectional descriptive study involving within-subject comparisons.


      Four Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems centers.


      Manual wheelchair users with SCI (N=117).


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      WST and WST-Q version 4.2 as well as measures for Confidence, Basic Mobility, Independence, Ability to Participate, Satisfaction, and Pain Interference.


      The median (interquartile range) values for WST capacity, WST-Q capacity, and WST-Q performance were 81.0% (69.0%–90.0%), 88.0% (77.0%–97.0%), and 76.0% (66.3%–84.0%). The total WST capacity scores correlated significantly with the total WST-Q capacity scores (r=.76; P<.01) and WST-Q performance scores (r=.55; P<.01). The total WST-Q capacity and WST-Q performance scores were correlated significantly (r=.63; P<.001). Success rates were <75% for 10 of the 32 (31%) individual skills on the WST and 6 of the 32 (19%) individual skills on the WST-Q. Regression models for the total WST and WST-Q measures identified statistically significant predictors including age, sex, body mass index, and/or level of injury. The WST and WST-Q measures correlated significantly with the Confidence, Basic Mobility, Independence, or Pain Interference measures.


      Many people with SCI are unable to or do not perform some of the wheelchair skills that would allow them to participate more fully. More wheelchair skills training may enhance participation and quality of life of adults with SCI. The WST and WST-Q exhibit good content, construct, and concurrent validity.


      List of abbreviations:

      BMI (body mass index), SCI (spinal cord injury), SCIMS (Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems), WST (Wheelchair Skills Test), WST-Q (Wheelchair Skills Test Questionnaire)
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