People with conditions which include increased muscle tone and/or spasticity are likely to experience pain in their wheelchair seating system. Frank and De Souza (2017) conducted a study which looked at individuals with cerebral palsy (GMFCS levels IV and V) who use power wheelchairs. Of the 102 participants, 20 reported problematic pain (20%) caused by spasticity, spinal curvatures, back pain, hip pain and/or spasticity. The pain was significant; 18 of the 20 participants required medical management (90%). These same researchers in 2012 interviewed 64 power wheelchair users and found that pain is frequently experienced by this group and may be severe. They concluded that clinicians need to distinguish between wheelchair-related pain and pain due to an underlying health condition. Finally, the researchers noted that improved power wheelchair design and additional features should reduce this pain and suffering, but at a financial cost. This study also showed that pain was better managed in children than in adults. Download to read more.
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