Basic instructional course

3.15 Importance of appropriate wheelchair maintenance for improving the safety of wheelchair users

Location: Tequila, Second floor



Wheelchair users experience wheelchair part failures every 2-3 months in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and rural areas of high-income countries. One-third of part failures lead to adverse physical, social, psychosocial, and economic consequences to wheelchair users, which increases the public health and personal burden. Wheelchair maintenance has been found to reduce the frequency of wheelchair breakdowns, but compliance with maintenance is extremely low. Our research shows an overall lack of maintenance training and knowledge. Few training programs exist in research settings. But, they include generic maintenance tasks, lack appropriateness to user ability and wheelchair design, and do not reflect how and where the wheelchair is being used. This has led to poor maintenance adoption and, subsequently, a rise in wheelchair part failures and adverse consequences to the user.

Our interactive course will poll the audience as we present three studies. The first study will introduce wheelchair failures occurring globally and demonstrate the impact of wheelchair maintenance on failures. The second study will introduce WheelTrak, a smartphone-based, low-cost, scalable maintenance application that leverages artificial intelligence tools to provide maintenance recommendations tailored to wheelchair use. The third study demonstrates the application of the technology in Mexico; we are conducting a human subjects trial in Mexico to develop usage-based maintenance schedules and perform usability testing. As we present the study, we will engage practitioners and clinicians in a brainstorming session on maintenance tasks for users and service providers. Overall, our course will highlight the importance of appropriate maintenance in wheelchair service provision.

Statement of the objective / learning objectives

Participants will learn about prevalent wheelchair part failures, reactive repair practices and the need for usage-based maintenance led by appropriate technology. Participants will understand the barriers and facilitators for maintenance reported by our study subjects.


Anand Mhatre
Ohio State University, Columbus, USA


Lorena Rodriguez
Instituto Nacional de Geriatría, Mexico City, Mexico

Event Location

Tequila, Second floor