Wheelchair donation in a low-resources setting: Utilization, challenges and benefits of wheelchairs provided through a specialized seating programme in Haiti
Emma Sumner, Colleen O'Connell, Brenda MacAlpine
Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, E2K 5E2 Saint John, Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Objective: To describe a 6-month follow-up of a specialized paediatric wheelchair and seating programme in Haiti.
Design: Descriptive design using a structured survey and open-ended questions.
Methods: Concurrent with a seating and wheelchair programme conducted in northern Haiti, beneficiaries and their families were introduced to the study, and 86 of 91 consented to future contact. A survey was developed with input from international and local partners, and administered by face-to-face or telephone interviews. Donated wheelchairs were assessed in 5 categories: wheelchair utilization, maintenance, fit, environmental access, and perceived benefits of wheelchair use.
Results: A total of 57 beneficiaries (age range < 2–31 years) were located 6 months after receiving their custom-fit wheelchair and consented to the survey. All respondents still had the wheelchair, 70.2% were using it a minimum of 3–5 days/week, 17.5% were using it < 3 days/week and 12.3% were not using it at all. Primary reasons for not using the wheelchair were that it was broken, uncomfortable, or difficult to transport. The commonly reported benefits were improved mobility, independence, participation and social interaction.
Conclusion: The majority of people who received customized wheelchairs continued to use their equipment 6 months later, with predominantly beneficial outcomes. In future seating initiatives in low-resource settings, efforts to optimize equipment durability and training of local technicians should be supported and evaluated.
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