ISS 2017 Program


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IC40: New & Emerging Technologies: How to Ask the Right Questions When Evaluating Mobility Devices

New technologies that support increased mobility and participation for individuals with physical impairment are consistently developed and introduced to the rehabilitation community.  Product innovations capture a wide realm of proposed mobility solutions, ranging from unique ambulation assistive devices, to highly customizable wheeled mobility options and rapidly evolving powered exoskeletons that support individuals who are paralyzed to stand and walk.  Within each mobility device category, extensive variability exists.  As just one example, manual wheelchairs are available with a multitude of frame designs and features, are built with diverse materials, and are highly customizable by configuration, individualized selection of options and accessories, and interface with complementary mobility enhancing products such as power add-on systems. Often, limited objective evidence is available about the appropriate use and effectiveness of a new mobility device, yet rehabilitation professionals must respond to consumers who believe it is a “must have,” to product representatives who promote it as the “greatest invention ever” and to funding sources who insist it is an “unnecessary expense”. Many people are challenged to strategically analyze mobility products to differentiate between beneficial attributes and limits of use based on the information available.

The aim of this session is to empower participants to ask the right questions about new and emerging mobility technologies to support an accurate and meaningful assessment of potential value and identified limitations.  Topics will include regulatory requirements, established national and international test standards, impact of published literature, product coding, reimbursement and payment implications, ethical considerations, and objective review of device performance, durability and reliability.  Strategies to identify specific clinical indications and contraindications for various mobility options will be discussed and the impact of mobility device failure on consumers will be explored.  Participants will develop a framework for objectively evaluating devices to support practical clinical recommendations about new and emerging technologies.


Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this session, attendees will be able to;



Kendra Betz, MSPT, ATP
Veterans Health Administration
Littleton, Colorado
United States



    1. Gebrosky, B., Pearlman, J., Cooper, R.A., Cooper, R., & Kelleher, A. (2013). Evaluation of lightweight wheelchairs using ANSI/RESNA testing standards. J Rehabil Res Dev. 50(10): 1373-90.
    2. Iezzoni, L.I., & Ogg, M. (2014). Performance metrics for power wheelchairs: a pipe dream? Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 95(4): 604-7.
    3. Lajeuness, C.V., Routhier, F., Careau, E., & Michaud, F. (2016). Exoskeletons’ design and usefulness evidence according to a systematic review of lower limb exoskeletons used for functional mobility by people with spinal cord injuries. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. 11(7):535-47.

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