Perceptions of Fall Circumstances, Recovery Methods, and Community Participation in Manual Wheelchair Users

Laura A. Rice, Joseph Peters, Jong Hun Sung, Wendy D. Bartlo, Jacob J. Sosnoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective The aim of the study was to examine the circumstances surrounding the worst fall experienced by full-time manual wheelchair users in the past 12 mos, the recovery process, and influence on community participation. Design A mixed-method research study was conducted. Semistructured interviews were conducted to understand the circumstances of the worst fall experienced and the recovery process. A quantitative fear of falling assessment and the community participation indicators were used to further evaluate the influence of the fall. Results There were 20 manual wheelchair users (mean ± SD, 47 ± 13 yrs, 55% male). Falls most commonly occurred outside during wheelchair propulsion. Falls were attributed to both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Seventy percent of participants reported a fear of falling and 80% required assistance to recovery. No significant correlations were found between fall frequency and community participation indicator scores. Participants who needed assistance to recover (56.70 ± 17.66) had lower community participation indicator importance scores compared with participants able to recover independently (88.93 ± 22.13), P = 0.05. Conclusions Falls are complex and most manual wheelchair users need assistance to recover. Comprehensive programs including education on prevention and postfall management are needed. Results may increase understanding of the circumstances associated with falls and inform the development of evidenced-based clinical practice guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-656
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Accidental Falls
  • Community Participation
  • Wheelchairs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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