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Permobil Blog / April 18, 2024

Power wheelchair programming 101: Why program?

Power wheelchair programming 101: Why program?

Programming a power wheelchair is an important step in the delivery process to customize the wheelchair’s performance to meet the needs of the end user. Programming can include adjusting a variety of parameters such as speeds and rates to provide optimal performance and improve how the chair drives.

When a power wheelchair is programmed specifically for an individual, it can improve safety, comfort, and efficiency for the end user. A thorough assessment of their body functions, environment, wheelchair skills, and transportation will help guide what programming needs they have during the delivery of their chair. Appropriate programming enhances their independence and functional mobility in various environments. For example, they may need slower speeds for indoor use at home and faster speeds when out and about in the community. Programming can be as simple as saving memory positions for pressure management and transfers, or as complex as allowing for an alternative drive control such as a head array.

Regular follow-up assessments are essential to address any changes the user may experience and changes in their settings. When you adjust the parameters you are able to fine tune the wheelchair’s behavior to accommodate the user’s abilities and preferences.

Additional resources to consider for programming a power wheelchair include the Wheelchair provision guidelines, which provides a summary of evidence on best practices, as well as the Position Papers and Service Provision Guidelines from RESNA. You can also explore Permobil's Power Wheelchair Guide for further insights and tips on optimizing the performance of the wheelchair.



Leslie Wade, MOT, OTR/L, ATP
Regional Clinical Education Manager

Leslie Wade, MOT, OTR/L, ATP is an Occupational Therapist and a Regional Clinical Education Manager for Permobil. Leslie joined Permobil in February of 2019. Prior to this, she received her Masters of Occupational Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2002 and practiced occupational therapy as a full-time clinician for people with spinal cord injuries. Through this she has learned the invaluable need for proper seating & positioning and mobility devices. In addition to providing education in her territory, she also teaches at local PT/OT programs. Leslie served as the VCU Health Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Champion. This opportunity provided her with extensive experience in program development, education, and mentoring.



Categories: Complex Rehab, Power, End Users, End User

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