Wheelchair-related accidents: relationship with wheelchair-using behavior in active community wheelchair users

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 Jun;92(6):892-8. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2011.01.008.


Objective: To report the prevalence, mechanisms, self-perceived causes, consequences, and wheelchair-using behaviors associated with wheelchair-related accidents.

Design: A case-control study.

Setting: Community.

Participants: A sample of experienced, community-dwelling, active manual and powered wheelchair users (N=95) recruited from a hospital assistive technology service center.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Wheelchair-using behaviors, wheelchair-related accidents over a 3-year period, and the mechanisms and consequences of the accidents.

Results: Among the 95 participants, 52 (54.7%) reported at least 1 accident and 16 (16.8%) reported 2 or more accidents during the 3 years prior to the interview. A total of 74 accidents, were categorized into tips and falls (87.8%), accidental contact (6.8%), and dangerous operations (5.4%). A logistic regression found individuals who failed to maintain their wheelchairs regularly (odds ratio [OR]=11.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.62-48.61) and used a wheelchair not prescribed by professionals (OR=4.31; 95% CI, 1.10-16.82) had significantly greater risks of accidents. In addition to the risk factor, lack of regular wheelchair maintenance, the Poisson regression corroborated the other risk factor, seat belts not used (incident rate ratio=2.14; 95% CI, 1.08-4.14), for wheelchair-related accidents.

Conclusions: Wheelchair-related accidents are closely related to their wheelchair-using behaviors. Services including professional evaluation, repair, maintenance, and an educational program on proper wheelchair use may decrease the risks of wheelchair accidents.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wheelchairs / adverse effects*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology