Integrated fan cooling of the lower back for wheelchair users

Griggs, K.E. ORCID: 0000-0002-1962-9613 and Vanheusden, F.J. ORCID: 0000-0003-2369-6189, 2022. Integrated fan cooling of the lower back for wheelchair users. Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering, 9. ISSN 2055-6683

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Introduction: A large proportion of a wheelchair user's body is in contact with their wheelchair. Integrated fan cooling systems fitted to a wheelchair's backrest aim to alleviate the build-up of heat at the skin-chair interface. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an integrated fan cooling system at cooling the user during daily pushing activity.

Methods: Eight male able-bodied participants completed two conditions, with (FAN) and without (CON) fan cooling, pushing for four 15 min blocks. The fan was turned on (highest setting) at the end of block 1 (FAN), whilst in CON the fan remained off. Skin temperature was measured over the back and chest throughout alongside heart rate and perceptual responses (rating of perceived exertion, thermal sensation, thermal comfort, wetness sensation) at the end of each 15 min block.

Results: Wetness sensation and lower back skin temperature were lower in FAN (both p < 0.02), with the difference in lower back skin temperature between the two conditions being 2.20°C at the end of block 4.

Conclusion: The integrated fan cooling system provided significant cooling to the lower back without affecting any other physiological or perceptual response, besides wetness sensation.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering
Creators: Griggs, K.E. and Vanheusden, F.J.
Publisher: SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Date: 2022
Volume: 9
ISSN: 2055-6683
Rights: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 15 Sep 2022 08:58
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 08:58

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