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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Vol. 40 No. 4, July/August 2003


Development of a functional assessment measure for manual wheelchair users

Rhonda K. Stanley, PhD, PT; Deborah J. Stafford, MPT, PT; Elizabeth Rasch, MS, PT; Mary M. Rodgers, PhD, PT
Physical Therapy Program, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX; Department of Physical Therapy, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD; Research and Development, Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System, Baltimore, MD
Abstract — This investigation developed the Wheelchair Users Functional Assessment (WUFA). Because no functional outcome tools exist that include many of the daily activities that are needed to be independent by individuals using manual wheelchairs, development of an appropriate tool was deemed important. Although the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) can be used to assess disability in those using a wheelchair, it only measures some aspects of basic activities of daily living (ADLs) and does not measure community independence. Therefore, both basic activities and community activities were included in the new tool. A panel of six rehabilitation experts, with input from manual wheelchair users, determined content of the instrument. The resulting WUFA scale includes 13 items. Interrater reliability and stability were established with the calculation of an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC). ICC for interrater reliability was 0.96 and ICC for stability was 0.78. Further analysis was performed on the internal consistency of the 13-item tool using a sample of 101 tested subjects. This analysis was done using a Cronbach's Alpha. Results indicated excellent internal consistency of the 13 items. The standardized coefficient alpha was 0.96. The WUFA was shown to have content validity, promising interrater reliability and stability, and good internal consistency. Further research is warranted to determine the tool's sensitivity and capability to discriminate between levels of functional independence.
Key words: assessment, function, independence, wheelchair users.

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