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Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):

, 97, 10, 1753-60


Design: Convenience cross-sectional sample survey.

Setting: Nine Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Centers.

Participants: People with spinal cord injury who use a wheelchair >40h/wk (N=591).

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Number of repairs needed and resulting adverse consequences, number and types of repairs completed, and location where main repair was completed in the previous 6 months.

Results: There were 591 participants responded to the survey, 63.8% (377/591) of them needed ≥1 repair; of these, 27.6% (104/377) experienced ≥1 adverse consequence, including 18.2% (69/377) individuals who were stranded. Of those who needed repairs, 6.9% did not have them completed (26/377). Repairs completed on the wheels and casters were the most frequent repair to manual wheelchairs, whereas repairs to the electrical and power and control systems were the most frequent type of repair on power wheelchairs. Forty percent (79/201) of manual wheelchair users reported completing repairs at home themselves compared with 14% (21/150) of power wheelchair users. Twelve percent of the variance in the odds of facing an adverse consequence because of a wheelchair breakdown can be described as a function of occupation, funding source, and type of wheelchair.

Conclusions: Wheelchair repairs are highly prevalent. There are differences in types of repairs and who completes the repairs based on the type of wheelchair. Wheelchair breakdowns result in adverse consequences for users, and there is a deficit between repairs needed and those completed, highlighting the need for interventions that address these problems.


Toro, Maria L., Worobey, Lynn, Boninger, Michael L., Cooper, Rory A., Pearlman, Jonathan.