Vol. 37 No. 5, September/October 2000
Pages 543 - 554

Proposed test method for and evaluation of wheelchair seating system (WCSS) crashworthiness

Linda van Roosmalen, MS; Gina Bertocci, PhD; DongRan Ha, BS; Patricia Karg, MS; Stephanie Szobota, BS

Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Abstract  Safety of motor vehicle seats is of great importance in providing crash protection to the occupant. An increasing number of wheelchair users use their wheelchairs as motor vehicle seats when traveling. A voluntary standard requires that compliant wheelchairs be dynamically sled impact tested. However, testing to evaluate the crashworthiness of add-on wheelchair seating systems (WCSS) independent of their wheelchair frame is not addressed by this standard. To address this need, this study developed a method to evaluate the crashworthiness of WCSS with independent frames. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 207 test protocols, used to test the strength of motor vehicle seats, were modified and used to test the strength of three WCSS. Forward and rearward loads were applied at the WCSS center of gravity (CGSS), and a moment was applied at the uppermost point of the seat back. Each of the three tested WCSS met the strength requirements of FMVSS 207. Wheelchair seat-back stiffness was also investigated and compared to motor vehicle seat-back stiffness.

Key words: crashworthiness, wheelchair injury prevention, wheelchair seating systems, wheelchair standards, wheelchair testing, wheelchair transportation.

Contents Page for Volume 39, No 5
HTML version of article
PDF version of the article