wheelchair user with coffee image

There is a growing body of evidence that people who use manual wheelchairs benefit from power assist devices (PADs) across all aspects of their life, according to a new whitepaper from healthcare equipment specialist Permobil.

A power assist device is a motorised accessory that can be attached to a manual wheelchair to provide extra power, meaning the user expends less energy propelling. Permobil has a helpful guide about some of the different types of PADs available here.

‘Permobil White Paper: A systematic review of the evidence for power assist devices’ is based on a systematic literature review, complemented by a Permobil-conducted survey of 125 individuals with international representation. In addition, in early 2022, interviews were conducted with individuals who use various types of PADs.

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The whitepaper will be publicly released on Wednesday 22 June.

Importantly, the study uncovers that an individual’s needs must be matched to the varying benefits that come from different PADs (front, main wheel, rear).

The evidence in the new whitepaper finds that the impact of a PAD goes across all aspects of the individual’s life. According to the study, the impact goes beyond relief of repetitive strain and energy conservation but directly and indirectly affects what activities users can participate in, the environments one can access and navigate in, and how independent users are.

The study further finds that rear PADs’ compact size do not inhibit access in the workplace or at home. They are also easier to transport compared to other PADs. Front-mounted PADs were found to be the most intuitive for people to drive and can provide mobility without any pushes at all.

Carla Nooijen, Senior Researcher and Co-Author of the whitepaper, said: “The evidence around the benefits of PADs in general to relieve the shoulders, energy conservation and on difficult terrains is well-documented and increasingly well understood.

“A second important conclusion we found was that the different types of PADs meet differing user needs. In other words, we need to match individuals to the right kind of PAD for them.”

Ahead of the public whitepaper release, Permobil is hosting a webinar tomorrow (21 June), which will explore how the systematic review informs understanding about the impact that PADs can have. Presenters will also discuss the purpose and development of PADs and address the variety of PADs currently available.

The webinar will run at two different times for people in the UK:

  • 3pm-4pm BST
  • 6pm-7pm BST

Register for the free webinar here.

Last year, Permobil launched a whitepaper exploring the use of powered standing wheelchairs for providing clinical outcomes and improvement of functions.

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