Objective: 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.
Design: Multicenter cross-sectional study.
Setting: Rehabilitation centers and communities.
Participants: 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.
Results: 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]).
Conclusions: 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.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02972307.
Keywords: Caregivers; Motor skills; Rehabilitation; Wheelchairs.
Copyright © 2017 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.