Microclimate evaluation of strap-based wheelchair seating systems for persons with spinal cord injury: A pilot study

Christine M. Olney, Amanda Simone, Kristin Hanowski, Thomas S. Rector, Gary D. Goldish, Andrew H. Hansen, John E. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Study purpose: The purpose of this pilot study was to assess microclimate characteristics of two versions of a strap-based wheelchair seating system (perforated and solid straps) and to conduct preliminary microclimate comparisons of subjects’ current wheelchair seating systems. Materials and methods: In this pilot study, the microclimate properties of two variations (solid and perforated) of a strap-based seating system were compared with two commonly used seating systems. Six subjects sat on three different seating systems each for 100-min test periods, while temperature and relative humidity were measured with a single sensor adjacent to the skin-seat interface. Additionally, thermal images of the seat interface were collected before and after each test period. Results: The thermal images revealed that the maximum surface temperature of the solid-strap-based seating system was significantly lower than the other seating systems, −1.21 °C. (95% CI -2.11 to −0.30, p = 0.02), immediately following transfer out of the seat. Five minutes after transferring out of the seat, the perforated-strap seat was significantly cooler than the other seats −0.94 °C. (95% CI -1.59 to −0.30), p = 0.01, as was the solid-strap-based seat, −1.66 °C. (95% CI -2.69 to −0.63), p = 0.01. There were no significant differences in interface temperature or relative humidity measured with the single sensor near the skin-seat interface. Conclusion: This pilot study offers preliminary evidence regarding the microclimate of the strap-based seating systems compared with other common seating systems. Clinically, the strap-based seating system may offer another option for those who struggle with microclimate management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Tissue Viability
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is the result of work supported by and conducted at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. The materials presented here solely represent the views of the authors and does not represent the view of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government. This research was funded by Tamarack Habilitation Technologies, Inc., Blaine, MN .


  • Microclimate
  • Seating
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Strap-based seating
  • Wheelchair seating

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