Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Vol. 39 No. 1, January/February 2002
Pages 83-93

Preliminary evaluation of wheelchair occupant restraint system usage in motor vehicles

Linda van Roosmalen, PhD; Gina E. Bertocci, PhD; Douglas A. Hobson, PhD; Patricia Karg, MS

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

Abstract: Individuals using wheeled mobility devices (WMDs) often use them as motor vehicle seats during transportation. Wheelchair occupant restraint systems (WORSs), consisting of upper torso and pelvic restraints, are usually mounted to the structure of transit vehicles to secure individuals within their wheelchair seats. This preliminary study attempts to evaluate the use and satisfaction of currently installed vehicle-mounted WORSs for individuals using WMD as seats in motor vehicles. A survey was conducted among 33 adults who use their WMD to travel in motor vehicles. Results from the survey showed that upper torso and pelvic restraints installed in private vehicles are quick, comfortable, and easy to use. However, WORS installed in mass transit and paratransit are often uncomfortable to wear, difficult to reach, and time-consuming to use. This preliminary study documents the growing need for developing alternative WORS that are safe, comfortable, and that allow independent usage for wheelchair occupants while traveling in a motor vehicle.

Key words:comfort, lap belt, occupant restraint, safety, shoulder belt, transportation, WC-19, wheelchair, wheelchair standards.

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