UBC Occupational Therapy students speak to scooter users about their training needs
Powered scooters have become a popular choice for many Canadians faced with mobility issues.
But without adequate training, users can put themselves — and others — at risk of serious injury. Recent research has found as few as 25 per cent of scooter users receive formal training.
In an effort to determine the training needs of scooter users, UBC occupational therapy students — Julie Deveau and Catharine Eckersley — recently spoke to a number of users to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they face.
Here, Deveau and Eckersley share findings from their research, and illustrate why it’s important to gain an insider’s perspective.
Why did you decide to take on this particular research topic?
Deveau: You often hear of scooter users getting into accidents on the news, and when I found out that only 25 per cent of scooter users receive formal training, I was interested in learning more. With other mobility devices, like wheelchairs, standardized training programs are commonplace.
Eckersley: I had no experience working with scooter users so, for me, taking this research on was an opportunity to fill that knowledge gap.
What was the specific focus of your study?
Very little research currently exists on the training experiences of scooter users, and the kind of training that they would like to receive.
We wanted to change that so we set out to gain a better understanding of scooter users’ preferences for training, their experience of learning new skills, and their training successes and challenges. We also wanted to gain their recommendations for content and delivery of future training programs.
What were your findings?
While more research is needed, one of the key findings that came out of speaking with users is that scooter training needs to be tailored to meet their specific needs within their particular driving environment. Providing a blanket training program certainly won’t work for everyone.
We also found that among those who had received training, the focus was more on gaining technical skills – like learning how to roll forward or go over a ramp with the scooter. What was missing was the development of interpersonal skills – like learning how to advocate for themselves in public, deal with pedestrians, or navigate a busy crowd. In the future, it would be great to see these kinds of interpersonal skills taught as part of a scooter training program so that individuals can feel empowered and confident to engage in everyday activities.
Last April we presented our findings at the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Conference in Banff. A lot of people we talked to were very interested in learning more about the effectiveness of scooter training. Our hope is to take this research forward and publish it in an academic journal.
Ultimately, our work will feed into a larger, five-year feasibility study on the effectiveness of community-based scooter training being led by Dr. Ben Mortenson, an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy and principal investigator at the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD). While our research looked specifically at the experience among scooter users, in previous years, other students have supported the research effort by exploring the perspectives of a wider stakeholder group. Ultimately, the goal is to provide a more evidence-based approach to scooter training, ensuring that users feel safe and enabled using their mobility scooter in their socio-physical environment and participate in valued activities.
Project Supervisors: Dr. Ben Mortenson, Richelle Emery, and Linda Joyce
Are you a scooter user and interested in participating in the study? Click here for more information:
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