Virtual electric power wheelchair driving performance of individuals with spastic cerebral palsy

Brad E. Dicianno, Harshal Mahajan, Alcinto S. Guirand, Rory A. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Upper limb spasticity may impair the use of control interfaces such as joysticks for many individuals with disabilities such as cerebral palsy (CP). The aims of this study were to compare the driving performance of those with CP to that of control participants, to identify the impact of lead time on performance, and to compare two joystick designs, a standard movement sensing joystick and a novel isometric joystick. DESIGN: This study used a repeated-measures design to compare the performance of a group of participants with CP to that of participants without disabilities in a two-dimensional simulated driving task on a computer screen using the two control interfaces. The driving trials used varying "lead times," or the amount of warning time available to make movement decisions and turns. A total of 34 participants with CP and without disability were matched by age and sex into two groups. RESULTS: Participants with CP had lower driving performance in most variables of interest compared with controls. However, surprisingly, reducing lead time also reduced some performance errors, possibly because of more deliberate driving. The isometric joystick outperformed the movement sensing joystick in terms of performance errors but contributed to a prolonged reaction time. CONCLUSIONS: The isometric joystick was preferred by participants over the movement sensing joystick in this study and may be a future alternative for individuals with CP for both power mobility and computer access tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-830
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Joystick
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spasticity
  • Wheelchair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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