Controlled studies that reported both baseline and follow-up data on the effects of any type of mobility device on activity and participation of people with mobility limitations in real world situations were eligible for inclusion in the review. Both qualitative and quantitative studies were eligible for inclusion. Laboratory-based studies were excluded. Eligible participants were adults (at least 18 years old) with mobility limitations due to injury, disability, aging or chronic illness. Types of eligible mobility devices included crutches, walking frames, manual/powered wheelchairs, and rollators. Eligible secondary outcomes included mobility, frequency of use without personal assistance, quality of life, user satisfaction and adverse events.
Included studies assessed a variety of mobility devices. A quarter of the studies assessed the effects of powered wheelchair interventions; other interventions included rollators, individually adjusted wheelchairs, push-rim activated wheelchairs, a special brand walker and a special brand powered wheelchair. All of the studies were published from 2003 onwards. Three of the studies were carried out in Sweden. Mean age of participants ranged from 38.3 to 82.4 years. The percentage of males ranged from 19% to 86.4%. Where stated, participants had a variety of different conditions. Individually identified conditions included spinal cord injury, knee osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's disease and stroke. Outcomes were assessed using 21 different instruments, one third of which were study-specific questionnaires. Follow-up ranged from two weeks to five months; the most commonly reported duration was three months.
Studies were independently assessed by two reviewers to determine inclusion. Disagreements on inclusion of full papers were resolved through discussions between four reviewers.