Nicole Heron & Mikkayla Johnson

A Pilot Study to Explore How People Who Use Manual Wheelchairs Choose to Navigate in Community-Based Settings

Authors: Nicole Heron, Mikkayla Johnson, Dr. Ben Mortenson, Mike Prescott, & Dr. Jaimie Borisoff

Introduction. The environment often poses barriers and burden (the cumulative effects of environmental factors) to mobility in the community for manual wheelchair users. Together, barriers and burden can make destinations disconnected and unreachable if they exceed an individual’s abilities. Objective. To learn more about community navigation from the perspective of different manual wheelchair users. Methods. Mixed-methods. Qualitative data was collected by asking participants to provide a running commentary while travelling a community route. Quantitative data about the physical environment was collected using GIS. Quantitative data was also collected from the Wheelchair Skills Test questionnaire, Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion, and cognitive fatigue scale. Results. It is anticipated that there will be variation among participants’ physical abilities and perceptions. It is expected that there will be significant environmental barriers and burden for manual wheelchair users navigating the community course. Implications. Findings will help identify common rules of thumb used by manual wheelchair users in community travel, and provide information for future studies on improving community accessibility. Findings could also provide evidence for the need of an intervention that helps reduce the burden of moving about the community for manual wheelchair users.