Original research| Volume 99, ISSUE 7, P1295-1302.e9, July 2018

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Extent to Which Caregivers Enhance the Wheelchair Skills Capacity and Confidence of Power Wheelchair Users: A Cross-Sectional Study

Published:January 03, 2018DOI:


      • Caregivers significantly enhance the wheelchair skills capacity and confidence of the power wheelchair users to whom they provide assistance.
      • The nature and benefits of the caregivers' assistance could be summarized in 7 themes, for instance caregiver provides verbal support (eg, by cueing, coaching, or reporting about the environment).
      • These findings have significance for wheelchair skills assessment and training and for the planning of posthospital care.



      To test the hypothesis that caregivers enhance the wheelchair skills capacity and confidence of the power wheelchair users to whom they provide assistance, and to describe the nature of that assistance.


      Multicenter cross-sectional study.


      Rehabilitation centers and communities.


      Participants (N=152) included caregivers (n=76) and wheelchair users (n=76).



      Main Outcome Measures

      Version 4.3 of the Wheelchair Skills Test (WST) and the Wheelchair Skills Test-Questionnaire (WST-Q). For each of the 30 individual skills, we recorded data about the wheelchair user alone and in combination (blended) with the caregiver.


      The mean total WST capacity scores ± SD for the wheelchair users alone and blended were 78.1%±9.3% and 92.4%±6.1%, respectively, with a mean difference of 14.3%±8.7% (P<.0001). The mean WST-Q capacity scores ± SD were 77.0%±10.6% and 93.2%±6.4%, respectively, with a mean difference of 16.3%±9.8% (P<.0001). The mean WST-Q confidence scores ± SD were 75.5%±12.7% and 92.8%±6.8%, respectively, with a mean difference of 17.5%±11.7% (P<.0001). The mean differences corresponded to relative improvements of 18.3%, 21.0%, and 22.9%, respectively. The nature and benefits of the caregivers' assistance could be summarized in 7 themes (eg, caregiver provides verbal support [cueing, coaching, reporting about the environment]).


      Caregivers significantly enhance the wheelchair skills capacity and confidence of the power wheelchair users to whom they provide assistance, and they do so in a variety of ways. These findings have significance for wheelchair skills assessment and training.


      List of abbreviations:

      WST (Wheelchair Skills Test), WST-Q (Wheelchair Skills Test-Questionnaire)
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