The Impact of Wheelchair Seating and Mobility on Cardiopulmonary Function


Date: 12/7/21

Credit: .1 CEU

Speaker: Theresa Marie Crytzer, PT, DPT, ATP

ATP/SMS Prep Content, Medical Terminology, Seating & Positioning, Intermediate Level



Cardiopulmonary function, particularly in people with neurological disabilities, is often compromised. The extent of compromise depends on physiological factors including neurological level and denervation of the muscles of respiration, and the presence of scoliosis and kyphosis. Wheelchair positioning and mobility can impact cardiopulmonary function and chest wall expansion. Measurement of cardiopulmonary function is important to consider in therapist evaluation and to include in documentation for wheelchair seating. Adaptive exercise and daily physical activity can improve cardiopulmonary function. This course will provide a review of cardiopulmonary impairments and secondary conditions associated with neurological diagnoses, examine how outcome measures can support clinical judgment and inform letters of medical necessity, provide an  overview of the impact of positioning and seating on cardiopulmonary function, and discuss options for improving cardiopulmonary fitness in wheelchair users.

Learning Outcomes:

The participant will be able to discuss impairments associated with people with neurological conditions and secondary conditions that can impact morbidity and mortality.

The participant will be able to review five cardiopulmonary outcome measures and ways that they can support clinical decision-making in wheelchair prescription.

The participant will be able to examine the impact of wheelchair positioning and seating cardiopulmonary function.

The participant will be able to examine the impact of physical activity on cardiopulmonary function and options for improving cardiopulmonary fitness in wheelchair users.

Dr. Theresa Crytzer is Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology and the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Health Care System ‘s Human Engineering Research Laboratories. She completed a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Slippery Rock University in 2000 and completed a National Institutes of Health T32 Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh in 2011.  She has conducted research with individuals with spina bifida to understand their pulmonary function and developed a wheelchair rating of perceived exertion scale. Her research interests include the development of health lifestyle behavior interventions for people with disabilities.  She has been conducting physical therapy evaluations to obtain assistive technology for individuals with complex disabilities for 20 years including as part of her current position at the UPMC Center for Assistive Technology, and prior to that, at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children.