Volume 1, 2021 Vibration and the Manual Wheelchair User


Author D. Curt Prewitt, MS, PT, ATP

Credit: .1 CEU

Seating and Positioning, Best Business Practice



Significant exposure to vibration (whole body vibration – WBV) has been linked to a variety of adverse health conditions in able bodied workers exposed to WBV during occupation. For individuals in manual wheelchairs, WBV can not only have an adverse effect on comfort, ride quality and energy expenditure, but the WBV these individuals experience in their chairs can contribute to pain, degenerative conditions, interference with ADLs, increased spasticity and other negative health consequences.

Wheelchair manufacturers have attempted to mitigate the harmful effects of WBV through a variety of approaches in the past. However, much of the technology has been insufficient to meaningfully dampen the WBV a person in a manual wheelchair sustains. This article will discuss the origin and mechanisms of WBV, the issues associated with WBV for the manual wheelchair user, the pros and cons of some of the remedies that have previously been used, and look forward to potential strategies and technologies to explore to address the issue of WBV for the manual wheelchair user.

Learning Outcomes:

The participant will be able to list 3 adverse effects of whole-body vibration (WBV) on the health of a manual wheelchair user

The participant will be able to list 3 strategies for design on a manual wheelchair that manufacturers have employed in an attempt to reduce the transmission of whole-body vibration to the manual wheelchair user.

The participant will be able to list 4 examples of common surfaces that wheelchair users encounter that can impart

Curt Prewitt is Director of Education for Ki Mobility.  He has a BS in Exercise Physiology and an MS in Physical Therapy from the University of Colorado. He practiced as a physical therapist in a number of settings for a few years, most prominently in long term care, where he gained experience with seating and wheeled mobility.  He transitioned from a practicing therapist to a manufacturer’s representative, eventually moving into sales management and focusing on complex rehab technology.  Throughout his tenure on the manufacturer’s side in the complex rehab arena, he has dealt largely with pediatric positioning and mobility products.  He has previously also served as a product trainer/product specialist, teaching product features and clinical application, as well as coordinating continuing education presentations, both credited and non-credited.  He has presented continuing professional education courses across the US and internationally.