Standards for step height and front wheel operation indexes for wheelchair helpers navigating steps

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    Improving the usage environment for helpers pushing a wheelchair is an important issue. Steps are one of the main factors that have an effect on the physical strain of wheelchair helpers and the safety of wheelchair users. In this study, we investigated the preferable operation techniques for helpers and standards of step height, taking into account the user's riding comfort and the helper's physical strain. Eleven women in their 60s and without experience in helping wheelchair users participated in the study as wheelchair helpers. They navigated steps on a flat surface by two types of wheelchair operations (pushing the front wheels forward without lifting them and lifting the front wheels) at eight different step heights ranging from 5 to 150 mm. The helpers' subjective evaluation of navigating difficulty increased when the step height was ≥ 60 mm. Furthermore, some of the helpers were unable to control the wheelchair properly when the step height was ≥ 90 mm. Moreover, when we focused on front wheel lifting techniques, a longer moving distance while lifting the front wheel decreased the users' riding comfort. These findings suggest the need for standardizing step heights and developing preferable techniques for operating the front wheels of wheelchairs when navigating steps.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2901-2907
    Number of pages7
    JournalICIC Express Letters
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Control and Systems Engineering
    • General Computer Science


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