We are posting about a study on pain and electric-powered indoor/outdoor wheelchairs (EPIOCs) [1]

Pain is fairly common for this group: “…Most EPIOC users described experiences of pain with 17% reporting severe pain…Over half felt their pain was influenced by the wheelchair and few (25%) considered their chair eased their symptoms.

The study continues: “…The most common strategy for pain relief was taking medication. Other self-help strategies included changing position, exercise and complementary therapies…”

Pain source could come  from the underlying condition and/or the power wheelchair itself

This study is confirming what we already knew: most people in prolonged wheelchair use experience pain, however the study lacks in specificity.

First of all, the overall health of manual and power chair users usually very different. Let us compare the ills of a typical SCI, young person paralyzed because of a motorcycle accident and of an Multiple Sclerosis patient.

Life in The Tough Lane


Manual chair users are exposed to a somewhat different pain set, where a lot has to do with the repetitive effort of propelling their chair. This could involve pain in the  shoulder, back, wrist, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. References [2-5] have studies on these issues

So, what are the differences  between the pains  of the power and manual wheelchair users?

As mentioned in RedmanPowerChair [6]:   The claim is that,with the Redman power chair]…pressure sores improves, and so does overall health and also both bowel and bladder functions, blood flow and the functioning of the heart.

Here you have it

  • Pressure sores:  A useful review of pressure ulcers prevention can be found in [7], even though the study favors a commercial product, a cushion with alternating pressure system
  • Bowel and bladder functions: We posted on UTI issues for wheelchair users [8]. Treatments involved antibiotics , and sometimes botulinum. For Bowel functions, besides laxatives, some natural methods like abdominal massage have been tried with some success [9]
  • Blood flow and the functioning of the heart…[10] Risks are “… too much lipids in cholesterol and lipids in the blood (dyslipidemia) [11] (83.1%), hypertension (39.3%), and overweight (42.2%)  of paraplegics….”

These are the main health concerns and pain sources of power wheelchair user, directly linked to the chair use. Naturally, in addition there are the pains associated with the condition(s) that put them in the chair.



  1. Disability and Rehabilitation ; “The pain experiences of powered wheelchair users” ; Feb 2012
  2. Clinical Biomechanics ; “Mechanical energy and power flow of the upper extremity in manual wheelchair propulsion” ;2002
  3. Spinal Cord ; “Shoulder pain and its consequences in paraplegic spinal cord-injured, wheelchair users”; 2004
  4. Clinical Biomech ; “Muscular effort in multiple sclerosis patients during powered wheelchair manoeuvres.” ; 2004
  5. Canadian Seating and Mobility Conference ; “Reducing spinal Pain syndrome…” ; Amy Bjornson
  6. RedmanPowerchair ; “The Benefits of a Positionable Power Wheelchair”
  7. Journal of Long Term Effect of Medical Implants ; “Pressure ulcer prevention.” ; 2004
  8. medinewsdigest ; “Status of treatments for Urinary Tract Infections With Emphasis On Wheelchair Users ;Jan 2012
  9. International Journal of Nursing Studies; “Effects of abdominal massage in management of constipation–a randomized controlled trial.” ; 2009
  10. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine ; “Cardiovascular disease risk factors in persons with paraplegia: the Stockholm spinal cord injury study” ; 2010
  11. Hormone.org ; Dyslipidemia

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