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Study will better life in wheelchairs for those 55+

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A new University of Manitoba study, hoping to help those who become wheelchair-stricken at an older age, is looking for participants.
The Epic Wheels study is a partnership between the U of M and the University of British Columbia aimed at enhancing participation in the community for those 55 and older who become suddenly confined to a wheelchair.
"More and more older adults are using wheelchairs," said Ed Giesbrecht, study researcher and associate professor at the U of M’s school of rehabilitation.  "When someone needs to use a wheelchair, oftentimes there aren’t the resources to provide that kind of training on how to use it effectively. Just like a phone or a typewriter, if no one shows you how to use it, its usefulness is very limited."
Giesbrecht said this study will provide patients with tools so they can keep living their lives despite their new disability.
"Older adults are going home and they don’t know how to operate the chair well, so they tend to stay home," said Giesbrecht. "They tend not to get back into those activities that they did before. They visit less, and the people who are looking after them, the demands often go up for them, and their lifestyles are restricted."
Giesbrecht hopes the study will produce a one-month customized home training program. The training program includes subjects going home with tablets and learning how to live with a wheelchair through an app.
 The study, to assess the feasibility of the home training program, started a couple of weeks ago and now researchers are looking for participants.
"Having developed this project we want to evaluate its usefulness and to see if it is effective," said Giesbrecht. "We’re inviting people to participate in it so they really get an opportunity to try out an innovative program and there’s no cost to them."
In fact, participants could receive a stipend for their help. To participate, applicants must be 55 and older, have used a manual wheelchair for less than a year for at least an hour a day, and have a caregiver who is also able to attend the study.
For those interested in participating contact Giesbreght by calling (204) 977-5630 or email epicwheels@gmail.com

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