Site Specific Projects

Web-Based Wheelchair Maintenance Training Program

The wheelchair is likely the single most enabling technology a clinician can provide but the impact is compromised when it cannot be utilized when it does not work or fails before insurance is willing to replace it.  Wheelchair breakdowns are incredibly common and consequences of breakdowns include missing work and appointments, being stranded, and being injured.  Wheelchairs are frequently poorly maintained.  Lack of training and poor wheelchair quality can lead to secondary disabilities.  These secondary disabilities can be a result of injuries caused by wheelchair failures and/or tips and falls.  This type of training provides the opportunity to provide education to wheelchair users and professionals to attempt to decrease breakdowns and secondary consequences without the burden of travel to a wheelchair center for maintenance training.

Link to the study

Web-Based Transfer Training Program

Mastering the skills to perform transfers independently is a key milestone of functional rehabilitation because transfers are essential for daily living, performed on average 15-20 times per day, ranked among the most strenuous tasks of daily living, and believed to be a major contributor in the development of pain and injury at the shoulders. Unfortunately, time in rehab is becoming more limited for wheelchair users and access to training is often restricted by transportation and access to knowledgeable clinicians.  The web based training materials we are evaluating in this study may be an excellent low cost alternative with broad accessibility to provide individuals with the training in this key area. 

Link to the study

Investigation of independent transfers and injury prevention among individuals with SCI

Transfers are an essential activity for wheelchair users that have been linked to injury. We will use innovative musculoskeletal ultrasound techniques and the Transfer Assessment Instrument (TAI), both developed by UPMC-SCI investigators, to gain further insight into the relationship between independent transfer technique and musculoskeletal injuries. The project has three interrelated components. These components include:

  1. The investigation of the relationship between independent transfer technique and musculoskeletal injuries.
  2. The development of two sets of web-based training materials. One set will be focused on providing clinicians with the training needed to teach individuals with SCI good transfer technique. The other set of materials will be targeted directly at individuals with SCI, thus enabling independent learning.
  3. A randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of the materials.

The goal is to develop a training program that minimizes the risk of repetitive strain injury and will lead to improved transfers in the SCI population.