Power wheelchair driving challenges in the community: a users' perspective

Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2015 May;10(3):211-5. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2014.898159. Epub 2014 Mar 18.


Purpose: There is limited information on the difficulties individuals experience in manoeuvring their power wheelchairs during daily activities. The aim of this study was to describe the nature and context of power wheelchair driving challenges from the perspective of the user.

Methods: A qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with power wheelchair users. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify themes.

Results: Twelve experienced power wheelchair users were interviewed. Findings revealed that power wheelchair driving difficulties were related to the accomplishment of activities of daily living, and the influence of environmental context. Four key themes emerged: (1) difficulties accessing and using public buildings-facilities, (2) outdoor mobility, (3) problems in performing specific wheelchair mobility tasks/manoeuvres and (4) barriers and circumstances that are temporary, unforeseen or specific to a particular context.

Conclusion: This qualitative study furthers our understanding of the driving difficulties powered wheelchair (PW) users experience during daily activities. This knowledge will assist clinicians and researchers in two areas: in choosing assessment measures that are ecologically valid for power wheelchair users; and, in identifying and refining the content of training programs specific to the use of power wheelchairs.

Implications for rehabilitation: A better understanding of the everyday challenges individuals experience in driving their power wheelchair will assist clinicians and researchers in: Choosing assessment measures and identifying training programs for this population. Refining the content of power wheelchair training programs.

Keywords: Community; interviews; mobility; power wheelchair; qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Architectural Accessibility*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Wheelchairs*