Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Clinical features of children and adults with a muscular dystrophy using powered indoor/outdoor wheelchairs: disease features, comorbidities and complications of disability

Journal title
Disability and rehabilitation
Publication year
Frank, A. O.; De Souza, L. H.

PURPOSE: To describe the clinical features of electric powered indoor/outdoor wheelchair users with a muscular dystrophy, likely to influence optimal prescription; reflecting features of muscular dystrophies, conditions secondary to disability, and comorbidities impacting on equipment provision. METHODS: Cross-sectional retrospective case note review of recipients of electric powered indoor/outdoor wheelchairs provided by a specialist regional wheelchair service. Data on demography, diagnostic/clinical, and wheelchair prescription were systematically extracted. RESULTS: Fifty-one men and 14 women, mean age 23.7 (range 10-67, s.d. 12.95) years, were studied. Forty had Duchenne muscular dystrophy, 22 had other forms of muscular dystrophy, and three were unclassified. Twenty-seven were aged under 19. Notable clinical features included problematic pain (10), cardiomyopathy (5), and ventilatory failure (4). Features related to disability were (kypho)scoliosis (20) and edema/cellulitis (3) whilst comorbidities included back pain (5). Comparison of younger with older users revealed younger users had more features of muscular dystrophy affecting electric powered chair provision (56%) whilst older users had more comorbidity (37%). Tilt-in-space was prescribed for 81% of users, specialized seating for 55% and complex controls for 16%. CONCLUSIONS: Muscular dystrophy users were prescribed electric powered indoor/outdoor chairs with many additional features reflecting the consequences of profound muscle weakness. In addition to facilitating independence and participation, electric powered indoor/outdoor chairs have major therapeutic benefits. Implications for rehabilitation Powered wheelchairs have therapeutic benefits in managing muscular dystrophy pain and weakness. The use of specialized seating needs careful consideration in supporting progressive muscle weakness and the management of scoliosis. Pain, discomfort, pressure risk, and muscle fatigue may be reduced by use of tilt-in-space.

Research abstracts