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Susan Shore, Stephanie Juillerat
Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(9): CR533-542
Background: People with disabilities in the developing world do not have equal and adequate access to education, employment, or medical care. Their physical or mental condition, compounded by a lack of financial and technological resources, imposes a burden on both the family and the State. A wheelchair is a form of assistive technology which eases that burden for many. This study examines the impact of a simple, donated chair on the health, quality of life, and function of a subject population.
Material/Methods: Surveys were administered to 519 disabled recipients of a semi-rigid depot style wheelchair in 3 different countries at the time they received their chair and again after 12 months of use. Surveys evaluated physical and emotional health, functional independence, and lifestyle.
Results: On initial reports, 46.6% of subjects said they never left home, 52.3% were hospitalized one or more days/month, 70.3% reported daily pain, and 48.7% reported a negative mood state. Following 12 months of using the wheelchair, both the reported overall health rating and mood state increased by 20%; pain was significantly diminished. Although some areas in the ICF function measure improved more than others, the overall reported level of independence rose by 11%.
Conclusions: A representative sample of the disabled in 3 countries of the world is socially isolated, in poor health, and with limited function. Receipt of a simple, depot style wheelchair significantly improved their quality of life, health indicators, and the ICF function measure following 12 months of use.