Objective: The aims of this study were to report the current incidence of wheelchair breakdowns, repairs, and consequences and to compare current data with historical data.
Design: A convenience sample survey of 723 participants with spinal cord injury who use a wheelchair for more than 40 hrs/wk treated at a Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems center was conducted.
Results: Significant increases were found in the number of participants reporting repairs (7.8%) and adverse consequences (23.5%) in a 6-mo period (2006–2011) compared with historical data (2004–2006) (P < 0.001). When examining current data, minorities experienced a greater frequency and higher number of reported consequences (P = 0.03). Power wheelchair users reported a higher number of repairs and consequences than did manual wheelchair users (P < 0.001). Wheelchairs equipped with seat functions were associated with a greater frequency of adverse consequences (P = 0.01). Repairs did not vary across funding source, but individuals with wheelchairs provided by Medicare and Medicaid reported a higher frequency of consequences than did the combined group of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Worker’s Compensation, and the Veterans Administration (P = 0.034 and P = 0.013, respectively).
Conclusions: The incidence and consequences of repairs are increasing from what was already a very high statistic in this United States population. Further investigation into causality is required, and intervention is needed to reverse this potential trend.