Satisfaction with wheelchair prescription and functional mobility of clients with spinal cord injury

Wolf, Nadine
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There is limited research in South Africa as to whether wheelchairs prescribed to clients with spinal cord injury (SCI), especially in the private hospitals, are appropriate. Previous literature has provided evidence into the negative impact an inappropriately prescribed wheelchair has on a client with SCI and thus the need for in-depth assessments and sufficient knowledge regarding the different types of wheelchairs and biomechanical properties are of utmost importance for therapists prescribing wheelchairs. Various studies in other countries have also emphasised the importance of client involvement, client satisfaction as well as the importance of being functionally mobile in the wheelchair in order to achieve a satisfactory quality of life. Due to the limited research available in South Africa with regards to wheelchair prescription a relevant topic for this current study could be formed and thus the aim of the study was to investigate whether the level of involvement of the clients with SCI in a private hospital in Johannesburg in the wheelchair prescription process and the type of wheelchair prescribed is related to their level of satisfaction with the prescribed wheelchair and how this satisfaction is associated with their functional mobility in the wheelchair. The study was a descriptive non-experimental correlational research design consisting of 40 participants. The results showed that over 87.98% of the participants had a high level of satisfaction with their wheelchair prescriptions while 84.82% were functionally mobile in their wheelchairs. There was a significant difference between the type of wheelchair prescribed and the participants’ overall functioning in the wheelchair: the rigid frame wheelchair yielded a higher level of functioning in clients with SCI compared to the folding frame wheelchair, and is thus a better wheelchair to prescribe for this population group. Furthermore, the results also showed that the greater the involvement of participants in wheelchair prescription, the higher the satisfaction levels, indicating the importance for occupational therapists to be client-centred in their prescription of wheelchairs for clients with SCI. Overall, the study showed that the participants at Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital, the private hospital used for the study, were provided with appropriately suitable wheelchairs and that the therapists at the hospital are cognisant of the evidence with regards to wheelchair prescription
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Therapeutic Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Johannesburg, 2015