Individuals with disabilities who require the use of wheelchairs for all of their independent mobility often experience problems with chronic seat discomfort in their wheelchairs. In spite of this prevalent problem, very little research has been done and few products have been specifically developed to mitigate chronic wheelchair seat discomfort. Chronic wheelchair seat discomfort may lead to impairment in individual's quality of life or in extreme cases to equipment abandonment. The health care cost of these problems and overall impact on the health of persons with disabilities is potentially very large. There are 1.6 million wheelchair users in the United States. Many of these individuals sit for more than 8 hours per day and experience seating discomfort. The overall goal of this project is to develop and market drastically improved wheelchair seating for use by long-term wheelchair users with chronic seating discomfort. Specific objectives aimed at meeting this long term goal include: (1) to further study, prioritize and technically document the comfort related seating needs of long term wheelchair users who have discomfort; (2) to identify and investigate cost-effective automotive seating technologies than can potentially meet the needs of individuals with chronic wheelchair seating discomfort; (3) to determine the feasibility of integrating automotive technologies and wheelchair technologies; (4) to design, develop and test a pre-production prototype of a wheelchair seating system; and (5) to produce and successfully market the final product. The research design is divided into four sub-tasks. In Sub-task 1 the design criteria for comfort related seating needs of the target population will be prioritized. This will be clone through analysis of preliminary data collected during several studies already completed. In addition, a Quality Functional Deployment (QFD) chart will be generated and used for prioritizing needs. In sub-task 2 the cost feasibility will be determined. This will be done through construction and subject testing of a prototype wheelchair seating system. Several subjects will test this device and the efficacy will be evaluated through an experimental research approach. In sub-task 3 the remaining research and design needs will be identified in order to determine what else must be investigated in order to produce a marketable product. In sub-task 4, these results will be compiled and submitted for an STTR phase II work continuation. All of these sub-tasks will assist in meeting the overall goal ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grants - Phase I (R41)
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Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Sciences Study Section (MRS)
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Shinowara, Nancy
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Falcon Rehabilitation Products
United States
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