Adult perspectives and experiences using multifunction power wheelchairs in Aotearoa, New Zealand
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This study explored the perspectives and experiences of adults using multifunction power wheelchairs; thereby capturing their ‘voice’. A multifunction power chair in the context of this research is defined as a power wheelchair which has two or more of the following power functions: tilt in space; seat elevate; recline; stand and power elevating leg rests. A qualitative descriptive methodology using in-depth, individual semi structured interviews was conducted with a convenience sample of ten wheelchair users from New Zealand. The main themes identified were: mobility, environmental factors, independence, personal and social identity and ‘well-living’. The findings gave rich detailed descriptions of some of the benefits and challenges for a group of multifunction power wheelchair users. The benefits identified included increased mobility and independence. Improved personal identity and communication through the use of an elevated seat or standing position which achieved inclusion and face to face communication. Greater social participation and occupation, ‘well-doing’ achieved a state of ‘well -living’. Challenges related to environmental access, repairability and the increased weight of the wheelchairs which resulted in transportation problems. Whilst the wheelchairs enabled increased autonomy and independence, this in turn led to a series of different issues, such as person-centredness, practice knowledge, funding criteria, and backup support which should be considered during the process from wheelchair assessment to provision and beyond. Further research exploring the experiences of wheelchair users is required.
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