Effects of cross slopes and varying surface characteristics on the mobility of manual wheelchair users

R. A. Cooper, A. M. Molinero, A. Souza, D. M. Collins, A. Karmarkar, E. Teodorski, M. Sporner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Surface characteristics of a cross slope can impact the ease with which a manual wheelchair (MWC) user propels across a surface. The purpose of this research was two-fold. Phase I of this research surveyed MWC users to identify cross slope scenarios that they reported to be more difficult to traverse compared to other common driving obstacles. Our survey results showed that, overall, cross slopes were harder to propel across than narrow and manual doors, and cross-slopes in inclement weather conditions were equal or more difficult than gravel and rough-surfaces. Cross slopes with severe angles and those with compound angles (slope with cross-slope) were the most difficult to traverse. Phase II focused on identifying the responses (e.g., avoid, explore alternative, experience a sense of insecurity, no effect) people had when viewing pictures of various cross-slopes scenarios (e.g., narrow space, compound angles, extreme weather) that wheelchair users encounter. These results showed that people reported that they would avoid or feel insecure on some cross-sloped surfaces, like the weather, that are not within our control, others, like compound angle and curb-cuts on slopes, that can be addressed in the construction of pathways or sidewalks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalAssistive Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross slopes
  • Driving obstacles
  • Manual wheelchairs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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