The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the need for wheelchair testing to improve the quality and design of wheelchairs used in less-resourced settings. WHO recommends using the wheelchair testing standards published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO 7176 series of standards includes 347 wheelchair standards with 21 standards related to manual and power WCs, scooters and stair-climbing devices. These standards tests evaluate the product’s safety, durability, performance and product dimensions. Safety is assessed by measuring the stability of the wheelchair in forward, lateral and backward directions under different tilting conditions. Durability tests are classified into static strength, impact and fatigue tests and they fall under the ISO 7176-8 section. The fatigue tests include the multi-drum and curb drop tests. Both tests require the wheelchair to be tested for minimum number of test cycles as shown in the videos below. If products pass this minimum testing criteria, it is estimated that the wheelchair will last for 3-5 years in the field. Wheelchair manufacturers conduct these tests mostly on their own or through independent testing laboratories for certifying their wheelchairs for FDA clearance in the United States.
Double Drum Test
Curb Drop Test
Video Courtesy: Whirlwind Wheelchair International
WHO encourages governments and other provider organizations in less-resourced settings to adopt standards that are appropriate for the rugged conditions witnessed in such settings. Following this WHO recommendation, the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals (ISWP) has taken up the initiative to develop standards appropriate to less-resourced settings. The standards working group of ISWP has developed new tests based on field evidence and inputs from wheelchair experts, designers and manufacturers with significant expertise in less-resourced settings. Click here for more information on ISWP testing.