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Archived Tasks: November 2000 to October 2005

Research Priorities

The research team for this Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) has been extensively involved with a wide range of activities and organizations attempting to characterize and prioritize the needs within the field of wheelchair transportation safety. It is interesting to note that there is significant overlap between NIDRR-specified priorities, national and international standards groups priorities and the priorities identified by the University of Pittsburgh-RERC on Wheeled Mobility 2001 State of Science Conference. Summaries of these efforts follow:

1. Standards Committees Identify Future Work Items

With completion of ANSI/RESNA WC19 Wheelchairs Used as Seats in Motor Vehicles standard, the Subcommittee on Wheelchairs and Transportation has identified the following future work items. These items, in priority order include:

  1. completion of a companion document to provide the rationale for provisions within the standard, along with useful information for manufacturers, consumers and clinicians
  2. development of independent testing for after-market seating systems,
  3. crashworthiness of wheelchairs secured by other than 4-point tiedowns,
  4. development of a universal docking interface,
  5. harmonization with ISO and CSA,
  6. development of design and performance of restraint systems for small children,
  7. development of design and performance criteria and test methods for rear impact crashworthiness,
  8. development of design criteria for secondary supports and surfaces, and
  9. development of side impact crashworthiness design and performance criteria and associated test methods.

Most of these items have also been cited as priorities within the ISO Standards committees.

2. State of Science Conference on Wheelchair Transportation identifies future research priorities.

The participants at the RERC on Wheeled Mobility State of Science 2001 Conference reached consensus upon the following priorities as being key to advancing the field of wheelchair transportation safety (Univ of Pittsburgh, 2001). Participants of the State of Science Conference included consumers, clinicians, manufacturers, researchers and rehabilitation technology providers.

  • Conduct epidemiologically based studies to determine accident incidence of accidents, their associated injuries and causative factors
  • Conduct needs assessments studies to determine barriers to safe transport
  • Develop testing methods and design criteria for seating systems which are independent of a particular wheelchair
  • Assess wheelchair performance and safety issues related to rear impact
  • Develop guideline documents to educate consumers, clinicians, rehabilitation technology suppliers and manufacturers.

3. Priorities in the NIDRR request for proposals for an RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety

The following specific priorities have been identified in the NIDRR RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety RFP. NIDRR priorities share similarities with future research goals defined by the standards groups and the RERC on Wheeled Mobility State of Science Conference.

  1. SP-1: Investigate and report on the incidence, extent, and nature of injury of wheelchair riders due to motor vehicle accidents, making a distinction between the cause of accident, the cause of injury, the type of vehicle or transportation service involved, and the vehicle size and weight, and include recommendations for ways to minimize injury;
  2. SP-2: Investigate and report on safety issues, including both kinematics and biomechanics, related to wheelchair-seated occupants subjected to side and rear impact crashes;
  3. SP-3: Investigate, develop and evaluate universal securement interfaces that would enable wheelchair and scooter users to safely and independently secure their wheelchairs and scooters to motor vehicles;
  4. SP-4: Investigate and compare methods, including low-cost methods, for testing, both static and dynamic, the crashworthiness of after-market and customized wheelchair seating systems and peripheral devices and, if found to be viable, develop strategies for integrating these into existing voluntary wheelchair performance standards;
  5. SP-5: Investigate, develop, and evaluate integrated occupant restraint systems that are independent of the vehicle and easy for wheelchair-seated occupants to operate; and
  6. SP-6: Investigate the use of new or existing voluntary performance standards that would address problems associated with wheelchair-seated occupants subjected to side and rear impact crashes and potential benefits of using integrated occupant restraint systems, universal securement interfaces, and after-market and customized wheelchair seating systems and peripheral devices.

We have identified 16 interrelated tasks across six specific priority (SP-1through SP-6) areas. Within each absolute priority area are two or three interrelated tasks that address different aspects of the stated priority. Each of the six priorities begins with an overview of the need and benefits to the target constituency. Section B of this proposal provides descriptions of the proposed Tasks for each priority. Following the overview, each task typically includes designation of responsibility, review of the literature, objectives, a brief explanation of methodology, dissemination activities, anticipated outcomes and a timeline of planned activities. It should be noted that in most cases proposed research tasks entail “applied” research activities and therefore are not intended to be traditional hypothesis-driven type projects. Rather than conducting research to prove or disprove a particular hypothesis, most research tasks will be conducted for the purpose of gathering information needed to advance a particular objective. However, in those cases where human subjects are employed, rigorous research protocols with IRB approval will be followed.

General Requirements

In addition to research tasks, all RERC's have general requirements. The general requirements are addressed in five activities that include: Information Dissemination, Utilization and Technical Assistance; Training; State of Science Conference, Technology Transfer and Collaboration. You can link to the specific plan for this RERC by using the hyperlinks that follow.

Last updated: December 9, 2005