Preliminary assessment of a prototype advanced mobility device in the work environment of veterans with spinal cord injury.

The INDEPENDENCE 3000 IBOT Transporter (IBOT) is an electronically stabilizing device for people with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to collect qualitative data on the potential for the IBOT to improve employment satisfaction of veterans who use wheelchairs to work. This study was based upon observations by trained clinicians, and responses to a survey completed by four men with traumatic spinal cord injury, who worked in an office environment. The mean age of the subjects was 52 +/- 8.8 years. The subjects used the devices to hold eye-level discussions with colleagues, climb stairs, ascend steep ramps, and negotiate curbs. When subjects were asked to rate the ease of getting around in the IBOT compared to their personal wheelchairs, they responded with a mean of 6.7 +/- 1.8 on a 10-point visual analog scale. The response to rating the overall function of the IBOT within their working environment yielded a rating of 6.0 +/- 2.8. Half of the users felt that the IBOT would help them at work and all thought it should be made available to veterans who use wheelchairs. A larger study should be conducted to determine if the IBOT affects work performance and the ability to return to work.