Transferring to and from the wheelchair seat is a necessary skill for many wheelchair users who wish to be independent of their everyday life. The performance of wheelchair transfers has been associated with the risk of falling and developing upper limb injuries. Both present a risk to the independence of the individual. Previous studies on wheelchair transfers have focused mainly on the analysis of sitting transfers performed by individuals with spinal cord injury, which only represent a small portion of the wider wheelchair users' population. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of different transferring techniques (sitting, standing) and transfer board use on the ground reaction forces under the hands during transfer performance and transfer quality measured using the transfer assessment instrument (TAI). Sitting transfers displayed generally higher peak and mean reaction forces underneath both leading and trailing hands compared with the other techniques, but the difference was only significant between sitting and standing transfers. Standing transfers had significantly lower TAI scores compared with sitting transfer, potentially indicating a decreased level of safety associated with their performance. Transfer boards were only partially effective in reducing the weight born by the upper limbs and they caused only a minor reduction in the overall TAI score in comparison to sitting transfers.
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