Volume 44 Number 5 2007
Pages 693 — 702

Abstract - Comparison of mobility device delivery within Department of Veterans Affairs for individuals with multiple sclerosis versus spinal cord injury

Fabrisia Ambrosio, PhD, MPT;1-3 Michael L. Boninger, MD;1-3* Shirley G . Fitzgerald, PhD;1-2 Sandra L. Hubbard, PhD;1-2 Steven R. Schwid, MD;4-5 Rory A. Cooper, PhD1-2

1Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; 2Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Department of Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA; 3Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; 4Rochester Multiple Sclerosis Center, Rochester, NY; 5Department of Neurology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Abstract — Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) report decreased satisfaction with their mobility devices compared with individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCIs). This study (1) investigated the demographic differences between veterans with MS (V-MS) and veterans with SCI (V-SCI) who were issued a wheelchair by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and (2) described differences in mobility device prescription. We merged two VHA databases to obtain demographic and wheelchair information for all V-MS and V-SCI in 2000 and 2001. Descriptive information for issued wheelchairs was available for 2,154 V-MS and V-SCI. We found that V-MS were significantly less likely to receive higher quality wheelchairs (manual or power) compared with V-SCI (p < 0.001). The disparity in VHA wheelchair prescription between these two groups indicates a need for further research regarding the assistive device prescription process in these populations.

Key words: assistive technology, manual wheelchair, multiple sclerosis, power wheelchair, prescription, rehabilitation, scooter, spinal cord injury, veteran, wheelchair.

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