Electric powered wheelchairs for those with muscular dystrophy: Problems of posture, pain and deformity

Stanmore Specialist Wheelchair Service, Royal National Orthopedic Hospital, Brockley Hill, Stanmore, UK.
Disability and rehabilitation. Assistive technology 03/2009; 4(3):181-8. DOI: 10.1080/17483100802543114
Source: PubMed


To identify areas of difficulty encountered by a regional wheelchair service in providing Electric Powered Indoor/outdoor wheelchairs (EPIOCs) to those with muscular dystrophy (MD) in the early years of their provision--particularly posture, pain and deformity.
Wheelchair service records of all users between April 1997 and March 2000 were reviewed retrospectively and issues relating to weakness, pain/discomfort, deformities, other medical issues, weight change, function, posture and driving were documented on a purpose-designed proforma. Adjustments and modifications were documented over the 2-year period following chair delivery.
Of 325 EPIOC users on the departmental database, 29 had MD (15 Duchenne's), whose users charts were reviewed. Almost 80% of users needed clinical review within 2 years, mostly due to a scoliosis. Other problems were postural (66%), medical (48%), pain (31%), functional (24%) and weight change (14%). The commonest prescriptions were for specialised seating (24%), lateral supports, headrests and footrests (21% each).
The rate of disease progression was not planned for by the service. Most clients were seen in response to deterioration, rather than anticipating it. Planned reviews within 1 year appear essential for teenagers with MD with the dual issues of rapid maturation and progressive disease.

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