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Prevalence of wheelchair and scooter use among community dwelling Canadians

TitlePrevalence of wheelchair and scooter use among community dwelling Canadians
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSmith, E. M., Giesbrecht E. M., Ben Mortenson W.., and Miller W. C.
JournalPhysical Therapy
Pages1135 - 1142
Date PublishedAugust

Background Mobility impairments are the third leading cause of disability for community-dwelling Canadians. Wheelchairs and scooters (WCSs) help compensate for these challenges. There is limited data within the last decade estimating the prevalence of WCS use in Canada. Objective To estimate the prevalence of wheelchair and scooter use in Canada, and explore relevant demographic characteristics of wheelchair and scooter users. Design Secondary analysis of cross-sectional national survey. Methods The Canadian Survey on Disability (2012) collected data on wheelchair and scooter use from community-dwelling individuals aged 15 and over with a self-identified activity limitation on the National Household Survey. Prevalence estimates were calculated as weighted frequencies, with cross-tabulations to determine the number of WCS users in Canada, by province, and demographic characteristics (i.e., age, sex), and bootstrapping to estimate the variance of all point estimates. Results There were approximately 288,800 community-dwelling WCS users aged 15 and over, representing 1.0% of the Canadian population. This included 197,560 manual wheelchair users, 42,360 powered wheelchair users, and 108,550 scooter users. WCS users were predominantly female, with a mean age of 65 years. Approximately 50,620 individuals used a combination of two WCSs. Limitations These results are representative of individuals living in the community in Canada, and exclude individuals in residential or group based settings; estimates do not represent the true population prevalence. Conclusion This analysis is the first in over 10 years to provide a prevalence estimate and description of WCS users in Canada. Since 2004, there has been an increase in the proportion of the population who use WCSs, likely related to an aging Canadian population. These new prevalence data have potential to inform policy, research, and clinical practice.

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