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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
SJR: 0.332 SNIP: 0.491 CiteScore™: 0.89

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v14.i2.40
24 pages

Technological Advances in Powered Wheelchairs

Richard Edlich
Legacy Verified Level I Shock Trauma Center Pediatrics and Adults, Legacy Emanual Hospital; and Plastic Surgery, Biomedical Engineering and Emergency Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, USA
Kenneth P. Nelson
Wheel Chair Works, Inc., Milwaukie, Oregon
Marni L. Foley
Portland Medical Clinic LLP, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Ralph M. Buschbacher
Clinical Associate Professor & Interim Chair. Department of Physical Medicine&Rehabilitation, Indiana University School of Medicine,CL 368,541 North Clinical Drive, Indianapolis IN 46202, USA
William B. Long III
Trauma Specialists LLP, Legacy Verified Level I Shock Trauma Center for Pediatrics and Adults, Legacy Emmanuel Hospital Portland, OR, USA
Eva K. Ma
Private Practice Consultant, Portland, Oregon

ABSTRACT

During the last 40 years, there have been revolutionary advances in power wheelchairs. These unique wheelchair systems, designed for the physically immobile patient, have become extremely diversified, allowing the user to achieve different positions, including tilt, recline, and, more recently, passive standing. Because of this wide diversity of powered wheelchair products, there is a growing realization of the need for certification of wheeled mobility suppliers. Legislation in Tennessee (Consumer Protection Act for Wheeled Mobility) passed in 2003 will ensure that wheeled mobility suppliers must have Assistive Technology Supplier certification and maintain their continuing education credits when fitting individuals in wheelchairs for long-term use. Fifteen other legislative efforts are currently underway in general assemblies throughout the US. Manufacturers, dealers, hospitals, and legislators are working toward the ultimate goal of passing federal legislation delineating the certification process of wheeled mobility suppliers. The most recent advance in the design of powered wheelchairs is the development of passive standing positions. The beneficial effects of passive standing have been documented by comprehensive scientific studies. These benefits include reduction of seating pressure, decreased bone demineralization, increased bladder pressure, enhanced orthostatic circulatory regulation, reduction in muscular tone, decrease in upper extremity muscle stress, and enhanced functional status in general. In February 2003, Permobil, Inc., introduced the powered Permobil Chairman 2K Stander™ wheelchair, which can tilt, recline, and stand. Other companies are now manufacturing powered wheelchairs that can achieve a passive standing position. These wheelchairs include the Chief SR Powerchair, VERTRAN, and LifeStand Compact. Another new addition to the wheelchair industry is the iBOT™, which can elevate the user to reach cupboards and climb stairs but has no passive standing capabilities. In addition, the physically immobile patient must be seated on an ERGODYNAMIC™ Seating System 2000, which is inflated by the alternating pressure compressor 8080. This seating system has a deep center seam between the two ischial-support chambers, which provides a recess for the coccyx. The pre-ischial crossbar compartment inflates during each cycle to prevent the pelvis from slipping forward. It is essential that the physician of the immobile patient order two ERGODYNAMIC Seating Systems 2000 because the patient must have an additional seating system in the case one leaks. Moreover, two compressors are necessary because each compressor must be serviced after 2500 hours of use. For the protection of the consumer, these pressure relief systems must be supplied and serviced by a Certified Rehabilitation Technology Supplier®, such as Wheelchair Works Inc. Despite the indisputable scientific evidence of the medical benefits of passive standing for the immobile user, few individuals have access to these revolutionary wheelchairs. Consequently, it is mandatory that the medical community, headed by specialists in physical and occupational therapy as well as rehabilitation medicine, CRTS®, and manufacturers collaborate in a national education campaign to convince Medicare/Medicaid and all commercial insurance companies to approve immediately these assisted technologies. This program is essential so that the physically immobilized patient can achieve the undisputed physical benefits of passive standing.