Trial wheelchairs should be set up to the appropriate ‘size’ and ‘shape’ for the client. Wheelchair stability and manoeuvrability should be adjusted to match the client’s capabilities.
The trial should simulate the daily activities around the home, work and community outings in location and time duration. Pay particular attention to the performance of the wheelchair during transfers and personal care activities when stability and environmental access are important.
Set an obstacle course for indoor and outdoor environment if trials cannot be conducted in the home environment. This may include a specific route around the hospital that involves ramps, pedestrian crossings, kerb ramps, gutters, uneven terrain, carpet, tight circulation space and doorways. When comparing different products, consistency of the trial parameters is critical.
Therapists should list the trial conditions and ask for feedback in a systematic way using a table format. It is particularly useful when documenting clinical rationale and funding applications.