Individualized training for powered wheelchairs results in greater satisfaction with prior set goals


Lay Summary by Eric Hui

Edited by Ana-Maria Oproescu

This is a summary of a research study conducted with ICORD researchers Dr. Bonita Sawatzky, Dr. William Miller, and colleagues. Click here to access the original paper.

What was the purpose of this study?

The purpose of this study was to determine whether a powered wheelchair user’s ‘goal satisfaction’ improved after five sessions of individualized wheelchair skills training. The researchers also wanted to determine whether or not these changes in satisfaction were maintained 3 months after the training ended.

What is ‘goal satisfaction’, and why are improvements in goal satisfaction important?

Participants rated their satisfaction with each of their goals regarding mobility-related powered wheelchair skills, and this measure was termed ‘goal satisfaction’. The researchers decided that measuring changes in satisfaction with goals set prior to the training program would be most representative of increased capability and confidence in performing activities of daily living. Changes in satisfaction with goals were most representative of improvements in using powered wheelchairs because the goals could correspond with specific mobility-related skills, or the integration of skills into everyday life. Therefore, improvements in goal satisfaction are important because they reflect improvements in using powered wheelchairs.

How was this research conducted? 

17 powered wheelchair users were randomly assigned to different training interventions, which consisted of five 30-minute individualized Wheelchair Skills Training Program sessions. To measure the effect of the training interventions on goal satisfaction, participants were asked to self-report their satisfaction with each of their goals prior to the training, immediately after training, and 3 months after training.

What did the researchers find?

On a scale from 0 to 10 (with higher numbers corresponding to greater participant goal satisfaction), the participant’s mean score was 4.7 prior to training. The participant’s mean score rose to 8.0 immediately after training, and 8.3 three months after training. The difference in the mean satisfaction scores obtained “before training” and “immediately after training” was found to be statistically significant, which means that the improvement in goal satisfaction was most likely due to the training program, not due to chance. However, the difference in the mean satisfaction scores obtained “immediately after training” and “three months after training” were found to be not statistically significant, indicating that the difference might have been due to chance. Overall, the training intervention significantly increased participant goal satisfaction scores, and the increase lasted for at least 3 months after the training ended.

Why are these findings important?

Improvements in goal satisfaction can reflect improvements in mobility-related skills (such as manoeuvring or backing up) and the integration of skills. Improvements in mobility-related skills and the integration of skills could lead to increased activity and participation resulting in a higher quality of everyday life. Since individualized training was found to improve goal satisfaction (and improve the use of powered wheelchairs), powered wheelchair users can now assess whether individualized training would be beneficial to them or not.