Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The purpose of this study was to examine the physical and social factors associated with wheelchair selection. The study was carried out to test the viewpoint that social factors have a greater impact than physical factors on which type of wheelchair (power or manual) patients choose. A questionnaire was administered in the summer of 2004 to 200 members of a veteran's organization in the Northcentral Region of the United States. The sample consisted of 52 respondents. The results of this study suggest that a high correlation exists between the level of injury the respondents have and their wheelchair selection, but no significant difference was found for the number of years the respondent was using a wheelchair and the wheelchair selected. In social terms the respondents were found to select wheelchairs that were similar to those of their friends who were also in wheelchairs. Looking at the person(s) who helped the respondents select their wheelchair, no correlation was found for wheelchair type selected and the individuals who aided in that selection. Independence with a particular wheelchair type, whether power or manual, was found to be a significant factor for the respondents. Although the public response is more favorable toward a manual-wheelchair user than to a powerwheelchair user, it was not found to be a significant factor in individual wheelchair selection.



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