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Abstract

Nearly 3 million people in the Unites States utilize a wheelchair for mobility. Yet, there is no standardized assessment or procurement process for wheelchair provision. Thus, practitioners have limited guidance in the essential elements of a wheelchair assessment. End users may have no or limited experience in determining the best choice of wheelchairs to meet their needs and often rely on the knowledge of the practitioner in the decision-making process of wheelchair selection. The author explored the current state of practice and the essential elements in the wheelchair assessment and procurement process. Obtaining the correct wheelchair is a complex process, involving the client, family, practitioners, suppliers, manufacturers, policy makers and insurers. This study utilized a qualitative research approach using Participatory Action Research (PAR) and a Delphi consensus approach to garner input from 155 individuals who have experience in or with wheelchair assessments. Participants in this study included representation from wheelchair manufacturers, suppliers, educators, occupational and physical therapists, end users, policy makers, and government affairs personnel. The findings of this study suggest that the wheelchair assessment include a wide range of elements, be client specific, and reflect a client-centered process.

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