Research

What does a wheelchair represent to its user? A phenomenological study into the experiences of a group of adult permanent wheelchair users (2008)

Linda Walker, Stanmore Special Seating, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital

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In recent years wheelchair providers have attempted to develop a generic wheelchair outcome measure in order to audit and validate their work (Mills, 2005; Maidment, 2005). This has not been achieved for many different reasons. Measuring wheelchair provision may be considered under a number of headings; reducing handicap, improving quality of life, and task completion. Mills (2005) suggests that it is the medical model of disability that has dictated the need for a measurement tool for wheelchair provision to be devised.

The New NHS (DOH, 1998) emphasises that the patient and carer perspective is one of the National Framework themes for assessing performance. Little published evidence has been discovered to date that explores the wheelchair user's perspectives on mobility equipment.

This project will attempt to fill the gap in our previous knowledge, by asking wheelchair users to share their lived experience. This is to be a phenomenological study exploring the experiences of wheelchair users. The research will explore the wheelchair from the user's perspective. It will examine what the wheelchair represents to each individual, and attempt to identify the essence of what the wheelchair represents to its user.

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