The validation of a perspective-view micro-computer based wheelchair simulator

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Virginia Tech


Two perspective-view electric wheelchair simulators were developed to enable therapists to prescribe electric wheelchair control interfaces better. The simulators may also be used to train clients to use control interfaces. One simulator presented the user with the visual perspective of sitting in a wheelchair. The other gave the visual perspective of being behind the wheelchair. The simulators were developed on a micro-computer to reduce their cost and promote more wide spread use in the rehabilitation fields.

This study was to validate the wheelchair simulators by comparing user performance with the simulators to user performance with an actual wheelchair. Four disabled subjects and four able-bodied subjects navigated the simulators and an actual wheelchair through a similar course consisting of a path the width of the wheelchair. Performance measures relating to safety, such as RMS deviation from the path, number of crossings of the path boundaries, and maximum deviation per trial were obtained for both the simulations and the actual wheelchair driving task. Analyses of variance of these performance measures indicate that mean user performance with the simulators tended to be similar to mean user performance with the actual wheelchair. Correlational analyses suggest that performance with the simulators is predictive of relative performance with wheelchair in straight sections of the course.