Vol. 37 No. 5, September/October 2000
Pages 555 - 564

Evaluation of wheelchair back support crashworthiness: combination wheelchair back support surfaces and attachment hardware

DongRan Ha, BS; Gina Bertocci, PhD; Ernest Deemer, BS; Linda van Roosmalen, MS; Patricia Karg, MS

Injury Risk Assessment and Prevention (iRAP) Laboratory, Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Abstract — Automotive seats are tested for compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) to assure safety during impact. Many wheelchair users rely upon their wheelchairs to serve as vehicle seats. However, the crashworthiness of these wheelchairs during impact is often unknown. This study evaluated the crashworthiness of five combinations of wheelchair back support surfaces and attachment hardware using a static test procedure simulating crash loading conditions. The crashworthiness was tested by applying a simulated rearward load to each seat-back system. The magnitude of the applied load was established through computer simulation and biodynamic calculations. None of the five tested wheelchair back supports withstood the simulated crash loads. All failures were associated with attachment hardware.

Key words: wheelchair back support, wheelchair crashworthiness, wheelchair injury prevention, wheelchair safety, wheelchair testing.

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