EPIC WheelS Feasibility Study

University of British Columbia logo

University of British Columbia




Difficulty Walking


Device: EPIC WheelS Training Program

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


Many older adults have difficulty walking. A wheelchair can improve their participation but older adults typically receive little wheelchair training. Structured training programs are effective but rely on multiple 1:1 sessions with a skilled clinician. EPIC WheelS combines 2 brief training sessions and a 4-week home training program delivered using a portable computer tablet and monitored by an expert trainer. This study investigates the feasibility and potential for using EPIC WheelS with older adult novice wheelchair users in Vancouver and Winnipeg, measuring the impact on wheelchair skill, safety and confidence compared to a control group receiving only cognitive training. Hypotheses: The investigators expect that the feasibility outcomes will be sufficiently robust to support conducting a subsequent multi-site RCT. The investigators also expect the EPIC WheelS training program will have a significant treatment effect with improvement in wheelchair mobility, compared to a control group.

Full description

Many older adults rely on a manual wheelchair (MWC) for community mobility, but are not provided with the skills for independent and effective use of their wheelchair. Suboptimal use of the wheelchair results in substantial social costs such as reduced engagement in meaningful activity, social isolation, and higher caregiver burden. This is a poor use of financial resources, including the cost of wheelchair acquisition and requirements for attendant care. Access to skills training is constrained by the expense and limited availability of skilled therapists; demands of patient and/or clinician travel; and lack of training programs designed specifically for older adults. Enhancing Participation In the Community by improving Wheelchair Skills (EPIC WheelS) is an individualized home-training program that optimizes learning for older adults while limiting the time demands of expert trainers. Using an affordable mainstream computer tablet device, EPIC WheelS provides a structured training program that can be customized for specific users needs. The tablet is mobile, for in-chair or tabletop use, in home and community locations. A touch screen operated audio-visual display features interactive training and practice activities as well as video-recording capability. Wireless Internet enables user-trainer communication and remote program monitoring and updating by the trainer. A monitored home program that is effective and efficient for older adults has the potential for application to other target groups, particularly those in rural and remote locations with limited access to rehabilitation. PURPOSE: The purpose is to evaluate the feasibility and effect size estimate of a 1-month customized home training program (EPIC WheelS) for improving wheelchair mobility skills among novice older adult manual wheelchair users compared to usual care. Despite the pervasive use of wheelchairs as an intervention in rehabilitation, the evidence for training in effective wheelchair use is still underdeveloped. Structured training has demonstrated excellent potential, but the most effective and efficient means of providing that training remains unclear. Larger multi-site clinical trials are required to establish evidence to inform and direct clinical practice. The investigators propose that this 2-year feasibility trial is not only critical, but also prudent, prior to moving forward with an expensive large multi-site randomized controlled trial (RCT). Specifically the results of this study will address 1) feasibility outcomes (i.e., recruitment and retention; trainer and subject burden; safety; intervention administration and adherence; perceived benefit) and 2) clinical outcomes (i.e., effect size calculations for the primary and secondary measures). Although the principal intent is feasibility, the sample size calculation is based on the primary clinical outcome to provide a reasonable estimate of an effect size for planning the subsequent large scale RCT. HYPOTHESES: The investigators expect that the feasibility outcomes will be sufficiently robust to support conducting a subsequent multi-site RCT. The investigators also expect the EPIC WheelS training program will have a significant treatment effect with improvement in wheelchair mobility, compared to a control group. The primary clinical endpoint will be wheelchair skill capacity, as measured by the Wheelchair Skills Test (WST). Secondary clinical outcomes will include wheelchair skill safety; confidence with wheelchair use; mobility; and user evaluation of performance in participation-oriented activities.


20 patients




50+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

Wheelchair users must

  • be at least 50 years old
  • use his/her wheelchair for at least 1 hour per day on average
  • live within the metropolitan boundaries of Vancouver or Winnipeg
  • have a caregiver who is able to attend training sessions and supervise home training

Caregivers must

  • be 19 years old or older
  • be a caregiver of a manual wheelchair user who is 50 years or older
  • able to attend the training sessions
  • be able to supervise or spot the wheelchair user during home training

Exclusion criteria

Wheelchair users would be excluded if he/she

  • cannot communicate or complete the study questionnaires in English
  • has a health condition or upcoming procedure that would prevent you from performing training activities (e.g., cancer treatment, surgery)
  • is currently receiving wheelchair skills training elsewhere
  • cannot use both arms to propel your wheelchair

Caregivers will be excluded if

  • he/she cannot communicate in English
  • he/she has a health condition or upcoming procedure that would prevent you from supervising training activities (e.g., cancer treatment, surgery)

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

20 participants in 2 patient groups

EPIC WheelS Training Program
Experimental group
The EPIC WheelS program includes a comprehensive, structured library of educational material and training activities, organized in a hierarchy from simple to complex. Experimental group subjects will attend 2 training sessions with an expert Trainer. The Trainer will individualize a structured home training program, delivered via a computer tablet, and subjects will train at home for 1 month.
Device: EPIC WheelS Training Program
Cognitive games
No Intervention group
To provide a comparable level of investigator attention, control group subjects will receive two 1-hour social visits. To control for Trainer bias, the experimental and control groups will have separate Trainers. During social visits, the Trainer will discuss subjects' current community activities and their experience using the wheelchair, and provide verbal information related to barriers encountered. Subjects will receive a computer tablet with cognitive stimulation games to account for activity and tablet device exposure. Participants in the extra wheeling sub-group will be instructed to perform additional, unstructured wheeling for 15 minutes, 5 days per week (total 75 minutes/week) and document these on a simple calendar-style form provided. To minimize attrition, control subjects will receive a DVD with a condensed MWC skills education program after the post-intervention data collection is complete.

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

Clinical trials

Find clinical trialsTrials by location


© Copyright 2024 Veeva Systems