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Hong, Eun-Kyoung (2015) IMPROVING THE COMFORT OF MANUAL WHEELCHAIR BACK SUPPORTS. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The back support is an integral wheelchair component for appropriate seating position and trunk support. Compared to sling back supports, rigid back supports provide improved postural support and better function. As such, many clinicians expect rigid back supports to be more comfortable. However, rigid back supports are often reported to be uncomfortable and difficult to adjust or reposition while the user is seated in the chair. In order to address complaints of discomfort, it may be important to evaluate the relationship between the contour of the back support and the shape of an individual’s back. Further, difficulty with adjustment could be addressed by designing a mechanism to increase ease of use. The specific aims of this dissertation are to 1) evaluate perceived comfort among wheelchair users using both sling and rigid back supports, 2) use digital anatomic scanning technology to evaluate the backs of wheelchair users in order to classify types of back shapes and compare to back support shapes corresponding levels of comfort, and 3) create a commercial ready prototype of an attachment that increases ease of adjustment – the LightWeight Durable Adjustable Composite (LWDAC) back support bracket. To achieve aim 1, participants were asked to answer survey questions related to level of comfort of the back supports on their personal wheelchair. The questionnaire study shows that the higher discomfort ratings among rigid back support users with tetraplegia may be due to suboptimal shape, fit, adjustment or user experiences. The back scanning study demonstrates that wheelchair users have varying back contours, and commercial products may not be able to provide proper support to fit every individual. The disparity between the shape of the shell and the shape of an individual wheelchair users’ back may result in skin breakdown which is a serious concern. In accordance with findings from previous aims, a commercial-ready prototype the LWDAC back support bracket was developed and evaluated by wheelchair users traversing activities of daily living courses. Participants reported positive impressions of the prototype and the findings of this study assist in establishing areas for improved comfort and heightened function for manual wheelchair users.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hong, Eun-Kyoungeuh3@pitt.eduEUH3
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCooper, Rory Arcooper@pitt.eduRCOOPER
Committee MemberKim, JongBaejbkim@pitt.eduJBKIM
Committee MemberSchmeler, Mark Raymondschmelermr@upmc.eduSCHMELER
Committee MemberPearlman, Jonathan Leejlp46@pitt.eduJLP46
Date: 26 May 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 March 2015
Approval Date: 26 May 2015
Submission Date: 30 March 2015
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 209
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Rehabilitation Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Back support, Wheelchair, Questionnaire, Design, Adjustable
Date Deposited: 26 May 2016 05:00
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:42


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