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eISSN: 1643-3750

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The impact of a low cost wheelchair on the quality of life of the disabled in the developing world

Susan Shore, Stephanie Juillerat

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(9): CR533-542

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.883348


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.

This paper has been published under Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) allowing to download articles and share them with others as long as they credit the authors and the publisher, but without permission to change them in any way or use them commercially.
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