RESNA Launches Position Paper on Ultralight Chairs

The Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) has released a position paper focusing on ultralightweight manual wheelchairs.

The paper, called "The Application of Ultralight Manual Chairs," is available for download on RESNA's Web site.

A news announcement described the paper's purpose as "to document available research and best clinical practice to assist practitioners in supporting the appropriate application of fully customizable manual wheelchairs."

The paper discusses multiple factors that can ultimately impact an ultralight chair user's functional success, including seat-to-floor height, seat slope, seat width and depth, rear-wheel camber, location of the rear axle, and backrest height.

The paper also defines each factor and explains its influence on the ultralight user's ability to succeed with activities of daily living, and differentiates the ultralight chair from other wheelchairs currently available.

Included in the paper is an examination of upper-extremity pain and injuries among consumers who propel their chairs, as well as transfer in and out of the chairs and lift them into and out of their cars. The paper explains how and why ultralight chairs are uniquely designed and positioned to address those issues.

The paper concludes with a pair of case studies describing how changing to ultralight chairs impacted the abilities of a father and of a young child - thereby offering concrete examples of how the best success stories are achieved when technology adapts to the needs of each individual.

"The appropriate manual wheelchair must have characteristic features that can be specified to match the anatomical dimensions of the individual as well as the individual's functional ability," the paper states. "That is, the person cannot conform to the wheelchair, but the wheelchair must conform to the individual."

The authors of the position paper are Carmen DiGiovine, Ph.D., RET, ATP; Lauren Rosen, PT, MPT, MSMS, ATP/SMS; Theresa Berner, OTR/L, ATP; Kendra Betz, MPT, ATP; Tina Roesler, PT, MS, ABDA; and Mark Schmeler, Ph.D., OTR/L, ATP.

RESNA has issued additional position papers on pediatric power, seat-elevating devices, tilt/recline/elevating legrests, wheelchair standing devices, and wheelchairs used as seating within motor vehicles.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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