People with mobility disabilities may have difficulty standing, walking, or fully using their arms and hands. Mobility disabilities can range in severity from limitation on stamina to paralysis. Some may be caused by conditions present at birth, such as cerebral palsy (CP); others may be the result of illness, such as multiple sclerosis; while others may be the result of physical injuries, such as a spinal cord injury (SCI). Finally, some mobility disabilities may be related to conditions related to aging, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or balance issues.
People with mobility disabilities may need assistive technology (AT) to realize activities of daily living such as preparing food or cleaning house, to move about their homes and in their communities, or to complete work tasks. Examples of these devices include manual or electric wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, reachers, stair climbing aids, jar and bottle openers, shower chairs, or grab bars.
NARIC’s information specialists are often asked about assistive technology for people with mobility disabilities. This month we are highlighting evidence-based consumer products from the NIDILRR community for people with mobility disabilities who are looking for AT. These products may include guides, calendars, factsheets, and videos, among others.
Below, you will find a few examples of these evidence-based consumer products produced by the NIDILRR community:
- The project Improving Health and Function Through Use of Performance Standards in Wheelchair Selection investigates performance-based selection as a rehabilitation strategy that uses results from standard testing to inform the process of selecting appropriate wheelchair products for people with mobility disabilities, and matching appropriate and quality products for people with mobility disabilities. The center develops, evaluates, and implements performance standards for cushion tissue integrity management, cushion durability, wheelchair durability, and wheelchair propulsion efficiency. This center publishes evidence-based factsheets on a variety of topics related to wheelchairs, wheelchair cushions, and casters, among others.
- The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) enhances the use of research-based information to inform decision-making by SCI, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and burn injury stakeholders and improves the lives of and services for people with these injuries. The MSKTC provides evidence-based consumer products, including factsheets, videos, and infocomics, related to mobility and assistive technology for people with SCI, TBI, and burn injuries. The center also provides factsheets in Spanish on these topics for people with SCI, TBI, and burn injuries.
- NARIC’s Research In Focus series features reader-friendly summaries of the latest research from NIDILRR-funded projects. Each article presents an overview of a recently-published NIDILRR-funded study, highlights important findings, and discusses implications or directions for future research. This series is also available in Spanish. The following are a few examples of Research In Focus articles focused on AT for people with mobility disabilities:
- Caster Failures Could Lead to Frequent Wheelchair Breakdowns, but Preventative Maintenance May Help discusses a study that looked at wheelchair caster failures across several wheelchair types and manufacturers, compared the wheelchair caster longevity between different models, and looked at whether regular preventative maintenance would reduce caster failure among different wheelchair models. This article is also available in Spanish.
- Robotic Exoskeletons May Provide Health Benefits for People with Spinal Cord Injuries looks at a study from the Spinal Cord Injury Model System (SCIMS) Centers in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, and Texas that looked at the types of settings in which therapists and patients with SCI worked with exoskeletons, the perceived benefits and risks of exoskeleton use, and what recommendations the therapists had for improving exoskeleton design. This article is available in Spanish.
- NARIC’s Ask a Librarian series covers questions that NARIC’s information specialists answer regularly. This series includes Where Can I Find Guides for Assistive Technology? The article describes and links to over 60 guides and factsheets in the NARIC collection on assistive technology for people with disabilities, including those with mobility disabilities.
To learn more about these and other products from the NIDILRR community, contact NARIC’s information specialists.