Association Between Mobility, Participation, and Wheelchair-Related Factors in Long-Term Care Residents Who Use Wheelchairs as Their Primary Means of Mobility

Authors

  • W. Ben Mortenson PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Gerontology Research Centre, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    • Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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  • William C. Miller PhD,

    1. Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    2. G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Research Laboratory, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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  • Catherine L. Backman PhD,

    1. Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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  • John L. Oliffe PhD

    1. School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
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  • A portion of the findings from the study were presented at the 15th World Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, Santiago, Chile: Mortenson WB, Miller WC, Backman CL, Oliffe JL. 2010. Predictors of the frequency of engagement in occupation among long-term care residents who use wheelchairs as their primary means of mobility.

Address correspondence to W. Ben Mortenson, Gerontology Research Centre, Harbour Centre 2800, Simon Fraser University, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3, Canada. E-mail: bmortens@interchange.ubc.ca

Abstract

Objectives

To explore how wheelchair-related factors, mobility, and participation are associated in a sample of long-term care residents who use wheelchairs as their primary means of mobility.

Design

Cross-sectional survey.

Setting

Eleven residential care facilities in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada.

Participants

One hundred forty-six self-responding residents and 118 proxy respondents: mean age 84 (range 60–103). Most were female (69%), and a small proportion (9%) drove a power wheelchair.

Measurements

The Nursing Home Life Space Diameter Assessment was used to measure resident mobility, and the Late Life Function and Disability Instrument: Disability Component was used to measure participation frequency in daily activities.

Results

Path analysis indicated that wheelchair-related factors were associated with participation frequency directly and indirectly through their relationship with mobility. The final model explained 46% of the variance in resident mobility and 53% of the variance in resident participation frequency. Wheelchair skills, which include the ability to transfer in and out of and propel a wheelchair, were important predictors of life-space mobility and frequency of participation, and life space mobility was a significant predictor of frequency of participation. Depression was associated with poorer wheelchair skills and mobility and less-frequent participation. Counterintuitively, perceived environmental barriers were positively associated with frequency of participation.

Conclusion

The findings suggest that, by addressing wheelchair-related factors, resident's mobility and participation may be improved, but the efficacy of this approach needs to be confirmed experimentally.

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