Relationships between wheelchair skills, wheelchair mobility and level of injury in individuals with spinal cord injury
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STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional. OBJECTIVES: To describe the manual wheelchair (MWC) skill profiles of experienced MWC users with spinal cord injury and their wheeled mobility (distance and speed) while considering their level of injury and age. SETTING: Rehabilitation centers, participant's home and the community. METHODS: MWC skills were evaluated using the wheelchair skills test (WST) and wheeled mobility data were collected in the participants' own environment over a 7-day period, using a Cateye cycle computer (VELO 8). A total of 54 participants took part in the study. RESULTS: The mean total performance score of the sample on the WST was 80.7±11.8%, with a significant difference between participants with tetraplegia (C4-C8) and those with low-level paraplegia (T7-L2) (P<0.01). The average daily distance covered was 2.5±2.1 km at 1.7±0.9 km h(-1), with no significant difference between participants with paraplegia and those with tetraplegia (wheeled distance: P=0.70; speed: P=0.65). Significant relationships were found between MWC skills and daily wheeled distance (r=-0.32, P<0.05), but the correlation between these variables did not remain significant when controlling for age (partial r=0.26, P=0.07). CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the level of injury is related to MWC skills but not wheeled mobility. MWC skills are related to greater wheeled distance, but to a lesser extent when controlling for age.
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