Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Em-POWERing Children and Young Adults through Movement: Use of a Power Wheelchair Trainer to Enable Movement Exploration and Success


Physical Therapy


College of Health Professions

Date Range



Medicine and Health Sciences


Background: Children and young adults with severe motor impairments are limited in their ability to use self-initiated movement to access, explore, and learn from the world around them. Such individuals may also have deficits in communication and cognition that make it difficult to accurately assess their ability to learn complex new skills. Often these individuals are not considered to be appropriate candidates for powered wheelchair use. Our Power Wheelchair Trainer (PWCT) provides a unique opportunity for these children and young adults to explore the phenomenon of powered mobility within a safe and supportive environment. With intensive practice and training, we believe that the PWCT will provide an avenue through which these individuals may become candidates for powered mobility. Description: The PWCT is a motorized platform that allows a manual wheelchair to be temporarily converted into a powered chair, thereby permitting individuals to practice using powered mobility while optimally positioned in their own customized seating systems. The control panel on the PWCT interfaces with both a traditional joystick and a variety of switches. The PWCT is currently used with children and young adults at an area public school that provides special education services for individuals ages 5-26. Significance: The PWCT provides children and young adults with severe motor impairments the opportunity to safely and effectively explore powered mobility options within a supportive environment. Future program and research objectives include the development of child-centered instructional tools and valid assessment instruments to optimize use of the PWCT in promoting self-directed mobility for this unique population.

Conference Name

American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine

Conference Location

Toronto, Canada

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