Seat elevation study ramps up

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Monday, June 26, 2017

EXETER, Pa. – A study to examine how seat elevation technology can improve the everyday lives of wheelchair users is off the ground.

Researchers at Georgia Tech, which is conducting the study, have taken data loggers off the first wave of participants, says Julie Piriano, vice president of clinical education and rehab industry affairs, and the compliance officer for Pride Mobility Products/Quantum Rehab, which is sponsoring the study.

“But we still have a lot more participants to add to the study,” she said in May. “It’s ongoing.”

Georgia Tech’s Rehabilitation Engineering and Applied Research Lab has already conducted a pilot study on seat elevation. It found 90% of participants used the technology for increased safety and independence during activities of daily living. They also used it for transferring, reaching and preparing meals.

The new study expands the scope of the initial study with a larger participant group.

“We want to make sure it’s a true representation—across ages, disability types, geographical areas,” Piriano said. “Yes, it will be a snapshot, but we want fair representation.”

The study will be key to industry efforts to get more widespread coverage for seat elevation technology. While getting coverage is a process that takes time, good research can speed that along.

“For powered tilt, there was no code or coverage criteria at first,” Piriano said. “But it took less time to get (compared to other technology) because there was research behind it very quickly.”

In addition to Georgia Tech, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is also conducting a retrospective study on seat elevation technology.

“They’re looking at their files to determine who had seat elevators and who was able to keep it and who lost it, and who didn’t have it on their original chair, then got it,” Piriano said. “They’re looking to see how that correlates with their ability or inability to transfer or reach.”

The goal is to wrap up the Georgia Tech study by the end of this year, Piriano says.