Wheelchair Research

WHO and USAID have published Guidelines on the Provision of Manual Wheelchairs in Less Resourced Settings and determined requirements for wheelchair donations.

Appropriate Wheelchair Donations

  • Fit well in local conditions and needs
  • Life style and culture
  • Storage and utilization conditions
  • Include follow-up
  • Include training in fitting and repair.




Fate of Inappropriate Wheelchairs

Wheelchairs that don't meet the above standards are useless in less resourced settings. A pile of discarded wheelchairs sits in Joytown, at left.





Each year we include two types of similarly sized wheelchairs in the Wheels study. We’ve been able to facilitate the donation of study wheelchairs to Bethany Kids for children at Joytown in Thika, Kenya, where more than 300 children with disabilities attend boarding school. After the wheelchairs have been in use for several months we return to collect data on how well the wheelchairs function.

  • In 2014, our Kenyan partners have requested pediatric chairs. Out study will include a modified and updated Hope Haven chair, and a pediatric sized Gen-2 Free Wheelchair Mission Chair. Both organizations delivered 25 of their chairs to our Kenyan partners and ensured the chairs were appropriately proscribed to children there. We’re looking forward to being in Kenya in May to find out how well these chairs are serving their users. It’s a privilege to provide helpful objective data to these great organizations.
  • In 2013, our Kenyan partners requested adult sized chairs. The two study chairs were Whirlwind roughrider and Motivation’s Worldmade all-terrain wheelchair. The Roughrider was designed in California, it is built in the Philippines and distributed around the world. The Motivation all-terrain chair was designed in Britain, built in China and distributed around the world. Both organizations delivered 25 of their chairs to our Kenyan partners and ensured the chairs were appropriately proscribed to children there. These It was lovely to have Nicky Seymour from Motivation with us for part of our stay in Kenya.
  • In 2012, the two study chairs are 14” wide pediatric wheelchairs: the KidChair made by Hope Haven in Guatemala and a similarly sized pediatric wheelchair made in Kenya by APDK. (photos 3 and 4). It was a pleasure to have Mark Richard, Hope Haven’s Director of Operations, with us for part of our stay in Kenya. Hope Haven and APDK have both expressed eagerness to respond. To view a summary of the results presented at the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America conference, click here.
  • In 2011, the two study chairs were 12” wide pediatric wheelchairs: the Regency Pediatric Wheelchair made in the USA and distributed around the world by Joni and Friends, and a pediatric wheelchair made in Kenya by the Association of the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK). Click here for a summary of results presented at the International Seating Symposium. Both wheelchair providers are responding to the results of our study.

Donate Funds for a Wheelchair

$200 will help to cover the cost of enabling the donation of a study wheelchair for the children at Joytown. Donate online (select Wheels from the designation dropdown menu), or write a check to LeTourneau University, designating the Wheels project on the memo line, and mail it to: 

LeTourneau University

P.O. Box 7333
Longview, TX 75607

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