Wheelchair Related Injuries Treated in US Emergency Departments

National data estimate that between 1.6 and 2.2 million Americans rely on wheelchairs to assist with mobility impairments.1,2,3 Wheelchair users are among the most visible members of the disability community, and they often have substantial activity restrictions and functional limitations. Recent studies in the United States suggest that individuals with activity limitations are at a significantly higher risk of injury than those without mobility impairments.4,5,6,7,8,9 Several studies on wheelchair related injuries in the US were published more than a decade ago.8,10,11 However, because the majority of wheelchair related injuries affect older individuals, the characteristics of wheelchair related injuries among children have been overlooked. Data collected through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS)12 were analyzed in a previous publication to describe wheelchair related injuries between 1986 and 1992 in the US.8 However, the characteristics of wheelchair related injuries by user age group were not fully evaluated in this previous study. The objectives of this study were twofold: to present updated national estimates of wheelchair related injuries from 1991 through 2003, describing trends of wheelchair related injuries over time, and to examine characteristics of wheelchair related injuries by age group among wheelchair users based on detailed analysis of 2002 and 2003 NEISS data.
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