The safety of individuals who must remain seated in their wheelchairs during transit remains an important consideration for therapists prescribing wheelchairs. I have previously written articles on RESNA standards, including WC19 Wheelchairs Used as Seats in Motor Vehicles; WC18 Wheelchair Tiedown and Occupant Restraint Systems (WTORS) for Use in Motor Vehicles; and WC20 Wheelchair Seating Systems for Use in Motor Vehicles. These articles provide information that is helpful in understanding these related standards.
Last month, we looked at Wheelchair Tie downs and Occupant Restraint Systems (WTORS) and the previous month, we looked at WC19 - the voluntary standard for wheelchairs used as seats in motor vehicles. Let's continue our look at the factors that enhance safety for individuals who remain seated in their wheelchairs while travelling in motor vehicles. Specifically, we will look at WC20, which is the voluntary standard related to seating devices for use in motor vehicles, and we will look at some of the recommendations from the Guidelines for Use of Secondary Postural Support Devices by Wheelchair Users During Travel in Motor Vehicles.
Last month, we looked at WC19 - the voluntary standard for wheelchairs used as seats in motor vehicles. This month, let's look at Wheelchair Tiedowns and Occupant Restraint Systems (WTORS) and how these work in conjunction with WC19 compliant wheelchairs.(If you missed last month’s article, please see click here.)
This month, let’s think about safety, wheelchairs, and transit. Individuals who remain seated in wheelchairs while travelling in vehicles are “45 times more likely to be injured in a crash than the typical passenger”1 (p. 2). The “typical” passenger in a vehicle transfers into the vehicle manufacturer’s seat, which is secured to the vehicle, and uses the occupant restraint system; that is, the seat belt system that also is secured to the vehicle. Individuals who must remain seated in wheelchairs while travelling in vehicles also are at risk of injury in “non-collision events”, such as sudden braking or sharp turning, resulting in the wheelchair tipping, securement failure, or the occupant falling out of the wheelchair1 (p. 4). Many individuals who must remain seated in the wheelchair during transit do not have postural control or the ability to stabilize themselves or their wheelchairs during these non-collision events, which can result in serious injuries.
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