Researchers from the School of Health and Social Care at Brunel University have released a study revealing that holistic assessments are necessary when prescribing powered wheelchairs to patients with severely disabling Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
The study, released late in 2014, concluded that many patients with MS who were using powered wheelchairs began suffering from chronic and problematic pain as a result of using the chairs, asserting that an increase in professional assessments are necessary when prescribing the chairs to patients.
The Brunel study focused on 91 unique wheelchair users who severely suffer from MS. After completing a survey questionnaire from their local wheelchair provider, each patient was assessed by an occupational therapist to determine their eligibility for the contents of the study’s examination.
From there, patients were given a physical examination to determine their specific needs and abilities in operating the powered wheelchairs.
The study has shone a bit of light on the actual precautions that must be taken into account when assessing and fitting patients with severe MS for wheelchairs of this caliber.
Among the findings in the study is that 15 percent of the trial group has problematic pain as a result of using electric wheelchairs, showing that significantly more assessments are needed before the powered chairs should be used.
The study also noted that 30 percent of patients in the test group had health conditions that made them prone to aggravation from constant sitting, including sores, clots, osteoporosis and moderate to severe swelling.
What Can Be Taken Away From the Study
Like disabled vehicles, electric wheelchairs are a necessary device for people who suffer from MS. These chairs are their means of getting around and interacting with the world. Since they are a necessity that makes people’s lives easier, these chairs should not be creating more problems for people in the MS community.
Thankfully, the study noted that, along with increases in assessments before fitting a person to the chair, newer chairs featuring tilt-in-space (TIS) functionality can actually reduce and relieve the pain that goes along with being in an electric wheelchair. Doctors are now noting that chairs with these functions should replace older ones that lack the technology immediately. This simple function can go a long way for those who suffer from pain relating to being in an electric wheelchair.
The study came to two conclusions:
1) “The beneficial effects of TIS should be considered for all EPIOC users with MS and particularly for those with comorbidity.”
2) “Poorly controlled spasticity, when identified in people with MS, should be managed through positioning in the chair, pressure-relieving cushion and referral for medical management.”
It is important for scientists and doctors to be continually advancing new ideas that can alleviate pain for patients with MS, and studies like this help to bring awareness to this cause.
What do you think of the results of this study? Leave your opinion in the comments section below!