Powered standing wheelchairs promote independence, health and community involvement in adolescents with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Vorster N, Evans K, Murphy N, et al. Powered standing wheelchairs promote independence, health and community involvement in adolescents with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Neuromuscular Disord 2019;29:221-230

Vorster_2019_Neuromuscul Disord. Mar;29(3);221-230

Abstract

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a common neuromuscular disorder involving progressive muscle weakness. A powered wheelchair standing device provides capacity to stand despite increasing muscle weakness. This study used qualitative methods to explore how adolescents with Duchenne muscular dystrophy used a powered wheelchair standing device in their daily lives. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 adolescents, 11 parents and 11 teachers. Qualitative thematic analysis using a grounded theory framework was conducted to identify emerging domains. “Capacity to be able” was the central theme that emerged across the dataset: the introduction of the powered wheelchair standing device at a time when motor skills were declining enabled the adolescent to maintain and sometimes extend his independence. There were four underlying themes including (1) Independence, (2) Health, (3) Comfort, and (4) Community belonging and involvement. Each theme was illustrated in data collected from adolescents, parents and teachers. The device appeared to mitigate some of the challenges of progressive muscle weakness by providing the option for the individual with Duchenne muscular dystrophy to choose when and where to stand for participation in a range of activities, beyond what would be possible with existing therapeutic regimes involving standing frames.

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