Purpose: To evaluate the effects of a combination of wheelchair mobility skills (WMS) training and exer- cise training on physical activity (PA), WMS, confidence in wheelchair mobility, and physical fitness. Methods: Youth using a manual wheelchair (n 1⁄4 60) participated in this practice-based intervention, with a waiting list period (16 weeks), exercise training (8 weeks), WMS training (8 weeks), and follow-up (16 weeks). Repeated measures included: PA (Activ8), WMS (Utrecht Pediatric Wheelchair Mobility Skills Test), confidence in wheelchair mobility (Wheelchair Mobility Confidence Scale), and physical fitness (cardio- respiratory fitness, (an)aerobic performance) and were analysed per outcome parameter using a multilevel model analyses. Differences between the waiting list and training period were determined with an unpaired sample t-test.
Results: Multilevel model analysis showed significant positive effects for PA (p1⁄40.01), WMS (p<0.001), confidence in wheelchair mobility (p<0.001), aerobic (p<0.001), and anaerobic performance (p<0.001). Unpaired sample t-tests underscored these effects for PA (p<0.01) and WMS (p<0.001). There were no effects on cardiorespiratory fitness. The order of training (exercise before WMS) had a significant effect on confidence in wheelchair mobility.
Conclusions: A combination of exercise and WMS training appears to have significant positive long-term effects on PA, WMS, confidence in wheelchair mobility, and (an)aerobic performance in youth using a manual wheelchair.