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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Vol. 36 No. 1, January 1999
Pages 32 — 41

Abstract - Testing and evaluation of wheelchair caster assemblies subjected to dynamic crash loading

Gina E. Bertocci, PhD; Joseph Esteireiro; Rory A. Cooper, PhD; Therese M. Young, MS; Cherian Thomas, BS

Abstract--Wheelchair designs based upon loads applied quasi-statically during normal mobility use are likely inadequate to handle the increased level of dynamic crash forces that may be encountered when using the wheelchair as a motor vehicle seat. The purpose of this study was to characterize the integrity of wheelchair caster assemblies under simulated crash conditions. This study utilized dynamic drop (DD) testing, with loading levels and rates adjusted to match those found previously in sled impact testing and computer crash simulations. The results verify that current caster assembly designs may not be able to withstand forces associated with a crash. Five of seven evaluated caster assemblies failed when loaded to 8,007 N, or less, at loading rates seen in sled testing. DD testing used in this study is a valuable tool that can be used in the design of transport wheelchair components.

Key words: caster design, dynamic testing, transport wheelchair, wheelchair design, wheelchair transportation safety.

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