Effectiveness of Group Wheelchair Skills Training for People With Spinal Cord Injury: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Lynn A. Worobey*, R. Lee Kirby, Allen W. Heinemann, Emily A. Krobot, Trevor A. Dyson-Hudson, Rachel E. Cowan, Jessica Presperin Pedersen, Mary Shea, Michael L. Boninger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the effectiveness of group wheelchair skills training to elicit improvements in wheelchair skills. Design: Randomized double-blinded controlled trial. Setting: Four Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Centers. Participants: Manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury (N=114). Intervention: Six 90-minute group Wheelchair Skills Training Program (WSTP) classes or two 1-hour active control sessions with 6 to 10 people per group. Main Outcome Measures: Baseline (t1) and 1-month follow-up (t2) Wheelchair Skills Test Questionnaire (WST-Q) (Version 4.2) for capacity and performance and Goal Attainment Scale (GAS) score. Results: Follow-up was completed by 79 participants (WSTP: n=36, active control: n=43). No differences were found between missing and complete cases. Many users were highly skilled at baseline with a WST-Q capacity interquartile range of 77% to 97%. There were no differences between groups at baseline in WST-Q measures or demographics. Compared with the active control group, the WSTP group improved in WST-Q capacity advanced score (P=.02) but not in WST-Q capacity or WST-Q performance total scores (P=.068 and P=.873, respectively). The average GAS score (0% at t1) for the WSTP group at t2 was 65.6%±34.8%. Higher GAS scores and WST-Q capacity scores were found for those who attended more classes and had lower baseline skills. Conclusions: Group training can improve advanced wheelchair skills capacity and facilitate achievement of individually set goals. Lower skill levels at baseline and increased attendance were correlated with greater improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1777-1784.e3
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2016


  • Motor skills
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Wheelchairs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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