Purpose: To determine if older adult, novice wheelchair users who drive a power wheelchair with a JoyBar control complete maneuverability tasks in less time and with less error than those who drive a power wheelchair with a standard joystick control.
Materials and methods: A parallel randomized controlled trial design conducted at a medical rehabilitation and research centre with ambulatory older adults aged 60 and above (n = 27). The intervention was the JoyBar alternative wheelchair control. The primary outcome measure was total time to complete each of the two maneuverability tasks. The secondary outcome measure was total number of errors during each of the maneuverability tasks.
Results: An independent, two sampled t-test was conducted and revealed that the JoyBar group took a greater amount of time to complete both maneuverability tasks than the control group (p < .05). No significant differences (p < .05) were found in rates of error on either task between the JoyBar and joystick groups.
Conclusions: Maneuverability of a powered wheelchair by novice wheelchair users was not improved through the use of the JoyBar when compared to a standard wheelchair joystick, as measured by rates of error and time to complete maneuverability tasks. Implications for rehabilitation Clients who are new to powered wheelchair use may perform maneuverability tasks faster, with equivalent accuracy, using a standard joystick versus the JoyBar. Clients who use a JoyBar may require adjustments to the programming of their wheelchair to ensure optimal performance. Additional training may be required to achieve proficiency in maneuverability tasks with a JoyBar versus a standard joystick.
Keywords: Wheelchair; aged; mobility limitations; pilot projects; self-help devices.