Background: Reclining wheelchair users often add one or more sitting assistive devices to their wheelchairs, but the effect of these additional sitting assistive devices on the risk of pressure ulcers has rarely been investigated. This study examined the four modes of reclining wheelchair without and with different sitting assistive devices, namely the back reclined mode, the lumbar support with back reclined mode, the femur upward with back reclined mode, and the lumbar support with femur upward with back reclined mode, in terms of their effects on human-wheelchair interface pressure. Methods: This study recruited 16 healthy participants to undergo the aforementioned four modes in random order and have their human-wheelchair interface pressure measured. The initial setting of experimental reclining wheelchair backrest was pushed backward to reach a 150° recline. The data on interface pressure were collected for 5s while the participant maintained a stable sitting position. The contact area, average pressure, and peak pressure on the back area, ischial area, and femur area were recorded and calculated. Results: Among all tested modes, the lumbar support with femur upward with back reclined mode provided the most significant reduction in stress load on the ischial area (P≤0.010) and shifted part of the load to the femur area (P≤0.009). Conclusions: This study quantified the effects of and differences between various reclining wheelchair-sitting assistive device combination modes. These findings are useful for the decision-making processes of rehabilitation physicians, wheelchair users, and manufacturers.
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