Purpose: To determine the efficacy of a custom made wheelchair simulation in training children to use a powered wheelchair (PWC). Design: Randomised controlled trial employing the 4C/ID-model of learning. Twenty-eight typically developing children (13M, 15F; mean age 6 years, SD 6 months) were assessed on their operation of a PWC using a functional evaluation rating scale. Participants were randomly assigned to intervention (8x 30minute training sessions using a joystick operated wheelchair simulation) or control conditions (no task), and were re-assessed on their PWC use following the intervention phase. Additional data from the simulation on completion times, errors and total scores were recorded for the intervention group. Results: Analysis of variance showed a main effect of time, with planned comparisons revealing a statistically significant change in PWC use for the intervention (p = 0.022) but not the control condition. Whilst the intervention group showed greater improvement than the controls this did not reach statistical significance. Multiple regression analyses showed that gender was predictive of pre-test (p = 0.005) functional ability. Implications: A simulated wheelchair task appears to be effective in helping children learn to operate a PWC. Greater attention should be given to female learners who underperformed when compared to their male counterparts. This low cost intervention could be easily employed at home to reduce PWC training times in children with motor disorders.
Linden, M. A., Whyatt, C., Craig, C., & Kerr, C. (2013). Efficacy of a powered wheelchair simulator for school aged children: A randomised controlled trial. Rehabilitation Psychology, 58(4), 405-411. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034088