The standard manual wheelchair is an effective, but inefficient means of transport particularly for people who have experienced a stroke and have a resultant hemiplegia. Moreover, the Fully Equipped report (2002), identifies that the provision of equipment and, in particular, wheelchairs, to older or disabled people by the NHS or social services in England and Wales, is limited, and that wrist, hand and shoulder injuries are widely reported. The National Service Framework for Older People (NSF) promotes independence, autonomy and quality of life for both users and carers, while the National Stroke Strategy (2010) endorses the need for rehabilitation to embrace evidence based technologies in rehabilitation.
The Neater Uni-wheelchair was designed as an alternative to powered wheelchairs, lever drive and dual handrim wheelchairs for hemiplegic users. It is a standard Action 3 chair to which a kit has been attached which enables users to self-propel and steer independently of attendants. This research study was funded by a Department of Health, Health Technology Award.
The Neater Uni-wheelchair showing the novel components to enable independent driving
The project ran from 2010 to 2011.
The aim of this pilot study was to explore users’ experiences of the Neater Uni-wheelchair in the home environment.
Six users from a previous study, carried out in 2009, agreed to evaluate the Neater Uni-wheelchair in their home environments. The wheelchairs were delivered to their homes and collected from them after one month’s usage, at mutually convenient times. All users were provided with a digital recorder or a diary to record their feelings and experiences each time they used their wheelchair, for a period of one month. In particular they were asked to record ‘what worked’, and ‘what did not work’ for them, and to describe the type of activities they were able to undertake and if this differed from their activities in their standard issue wheelchair. At the end of the month they were also asked to reflect and report on whether they had used the Neater Uni-wheelchair more or less than their standard issue wheelchair.
The methodological approach was micro-ethnography and data were transcribed and analysed using Framework Analysis.
Key themes identified were
This pilot study would support the notion that the Neater Uni-wheelchair is a viable alternative to those that are currently available to hemiplegic users.
The results from this exploratory study would support the need for a larger study. There are no storage issues, it is a cheaper option than a powered wheelchair and it would appear to increase independence, activity and participation in the short term.
Jon Michaelis, Neater Solutions
User study final report (pdf)