ISS 2017 Program


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PC09: Power Assisted Technology: Evidenced Based Practice

Power assist technology has evolved over the past twenty years. Evidence reveals that repetitive stress injuries (RSI) are common in users of manual wheelchairs. A goal of power assist technology is to decrease the repetitive use of upper extremities (UEs) in propulsion to improve function and decrease pain. Preservation of the UEs can delay the need for power mobility and ultimately diminish the need for surgery. This half-day course is designed to provide in-depth review of the UE anatomy and ergonomics contributing to manual wheelchair (MWC) self-propulsion. Review of functional strength assessment and formal manual muscle testing, pain assessment and functional outcome measures will be addressed in order to complete a focused, accurate therapy evaluation. A comprehensive, thorough therapy evaluation coupled with the end user's complaints and functional impairments contributes to obtaining appropriate Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT) and thus achieving optimum functional outcomes. The three primary models of power assist technology will be presented including, design/specifications, don/doff procedures, cost, and case studies using these technologies. The three models will be available for on-site assessment/trial by the participants. Screening criteria will be provided to help identify appropriate end users and configuration of power assist technology. Funding considerations and documentation requirements will be presented. This half-day course will include Power Point instruction, case studies, videos and demonstration.


Learning Objectives:

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



Penny J. Powers, PT, MS, ATP
Vanderbilt Medical Center - Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute
Nashville, Tennessee
United States

Penny J. Powers, MS, PT, ATP is a Level IV PT at Pi Beta Rehabilitation Institute at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is a graduate of Russell Sage College and holds a Master's Degree from Northwestern University. She attained her ATP certification from RESNA in 2004. She is a member of the Clinician Task Force BOD. Accepted presentations include RESNA, APTA CSM and ISS. She serves as adjunct faculty at Belmont University, DPT program.

Cathy Carver, PT, ATP/SMS
Uab/spain Rehab Center
Hoover, Alabama
United States

Cathy Carver PT, ATP/SMS graduated with a BS in PT from University of Mississippi (1996). She received MS in PT from the University of Tennessee (2000). She has been working in outpatient Wheelchair/Seating Clinic since 2003. She has been teaching courses and lectures/labs in wheelchairs and seating since 2007. She is a reviewer for Alabama Medicaid for custom DME. She is a member of the APTA(Neuro Section), RESNA and is on the Clinician Task Force.



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    2. Gorce, P., & Louis, N. (2012). Wheelchair propulsion kinematics in beginners and expert users: Influence of wheelchair settings. Clinical Biomechanics. 7-12.
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    4. Alber (2014). History of Alber. Retrieved from:
    5. Paralyzed Veterans of America Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine (2005). Preservation of Upper Limb Function Following Spinal Cord Injury: A Clinical Practice Guideline for Health-Care Professionals. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 28(5), 434 - 470.
    6. Requejo, P., Mulroy, S., Haubert, L. L., Newsam, C., Gronley, J., & Perry, J. (2008). Evidence-Based Strategies to Preserve Shoulder Function in Manual Wheelchair Users with Spinal Cord Injury. Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation, 13(4), 86-119.

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