Assessment of wheelchair driving performance in a virtual reality-based simulator

Harshal P. Mahajan, Brad E. Dicianno, Rory A. Cooper, Dan Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To develop a virtual reality (VR)-based simulator that can assist clinicians in performing standardized wheelchair driving assessments. Design: A completely within-subjects repeated measures design. Methods: Participants drove their wheelchairs along a virtual driving circuit modeled after the Power Mobility Road Test (PMRT) and in a hallway with decreasing width. The virtual simulator was displayed on computer screen and VR screens and participants interacted with it using a set of instrumented rollers and a wheelchair joystick. Driving performances of participants were estimated and compared using quantitative metrics from the simulator. Qualitative ratings from two experienced clinicians were used to estimate intraand inter-rater reliability. Results: Ten regular wheelchair users (seven men, three women; mean age± SD, 39.5 ± 15.39 years) participated. The virtual PMRT scores from the two clinicians show high inter-rater reliability (78-90%) and high intra-rater reliability (71-90%) for all test conditions. More research is required to explore user preferences and effectiveness of the two control methods (rollers and mathematical model) and the display screens. Conclusions: The virtual driving simulator seems to be a promising tool for wheelchair driving assessment that clinicians can use to supplement their real-world evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-332
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Assistive technology
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Driving simulator
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal cord injury
  • User-computer interface
  • Virtual reality
  • Wheelchair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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