Comparison of Laboratory and Actual Fatigue Life
for Three Types of Manual Wheelchairs

Shirley G. Fitzgerald, PhD, Lisa M. Yoest, Rory A. Cooper, PhD, Fred Downs, BS, BA, MBA

VA Centers of Excellence, VA Healthcare System
Depts of Rehabilitation Science & Technology and Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh
Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Strategic Healthcare Group

Slide 1
Comparison of Laboratory and Actual Fatigue Life for Three Types of Manual Wheelchairs

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Shirley G. Fitzgerald, PhD, Lisa M. Yoest, Rory A. Cooper, PhD, Fred Downs, BS, BA, MBA

VA Centers of Excellence, VA Healthcare System

Depts of Rehabilitation Science & Technology and Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh

Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Strategic Healthcare Group

Slide 2
Acknowledgements

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Funding for this study…

  • Center for Disease Control; Center for Injury Research and Control
  • VA R&D Center of Excellence on Wheelchairs & Related Technology

Bradley Inpink

Slide 3
Background

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Manual wheelchairs tested according to ISO fatigue standards in a laboratory setting.

Results indicate that ultralight wheelchairs are more cost-effective and survive longer than other types of manual wheelchairs.

Slide 4
Specific Aim

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To compare results from the laboratory setting to ‘real world’ results

Slide 5
HERL Wheelchair Database

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Includes over 159 wheelchairs that have been tested according to ISO standards

Database documents

  • How many cycles were completed on the double-drum and curb-drop machine
  • What type and when problems occurred to the wheelchair

Slide 6

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Graphic description:

Slide 7
National Prosthetic Patient Database

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National database that contains all data on the prosthetic patient’s record at each VA facility (N=172)

Coding of prosthetic devices based on Health Care Financing Administration’s Common Procedures Coding System (HCPCS)

Prosthetic devices include: wheelchairs, assistive devices, prostheses, eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc

Initially established to have a centralized dbase, improve prescription practices and increase quality, reduce costs and improve efficiency of the prosthetic service.

Slide 8
Results

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From 10/1/1999 to 6/30/2000…

17,622 manual wheelchairs were issued (VISNS 1-11)

72% were depot wheelchairs (K0001-K0003)

28% were lightweight or ultralight weight wheelchairs (K0004, K0005)

Slide 9
Distribution of Wheelchairs Prescribed (2000)

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N= 17522

Graphic description:

K0001- 67%

K0002 - .24%

K0003- 7%

Slide 10
Comparison of Manual Wheelchairs Issued and Replaced

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Graphic description:

Significantly different at 0.05 level

The dark brown are spare chairs that were ordered.

N=17622

Slide 11
Number of repairs by wheelchair type

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Of all the chairs with no repairs majority were depot wheelchairs.

N=17622 – no significant differences

Graphic description:

Slide 12
Number of Repairs for 11 VA VISNS

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Slide 13
Initial Issue Wheelchairs: % needing to be repaired

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Graphic description:

P=0.07

Slide 14
Discussion

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Results from laboratory have found that ultralights have longest fatigue life

Laboratory findings also show that depots and lightweights are more likely to need repairs and are significantly different than ultralights

“Real World” data shows that depots and lightweights are more likely to need repairs, especially after initial issue of wheelchair

Longest fatigue life – lasting 13.2 times longer than depots and more cost-effective 3.4 times less per life cycle than depot chairs

Ultralights also are more likely to have a class 1 failure (minor)

Slide 15
Discussion: Limitations

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Further examination of data is needed to determine the extent of the repair (what was done and expense)

Need to obtain further data on the number of veterans who use wheelchairs as their primary means of mobility – are all of them being provided with the best?

NPPD database is one year compared to laboratory data that is estimated at 3 years of life

Slide 16
Thank you for your attention!

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Return to Slide Series

Updated: February 28, 2002

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Please note: This information is provided a archival information from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheeled Mobility from 1993 to 2002.

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