• Assesses manual wheelchair mobility (i.e., skill and performance).
  • Tasks cover 3 aspects of mobility:
    1) Tempo (tasks = figure-of-8 shape and sprint)
    2) Technical skill (tasks = crossing a doorstep, mounting a platform, and transferring)
    3) Physical capacity (tasks = wheelchair propulsion and ascending slopes).

Clinical Considerations

  • The performance time and physical strain are useful to monitor progress once the individual achieves a maximal score on the ability score or if they have not demonstrated any change over repeated administrations.
  • The WC includes functional tasks developed specifically for the SCI population. However, the tasks are only relevant to manual wheelchair users. Some tasks may be too difficult / not suitable if individuals have medical complications or are older.
  • The Wheelchair Circuit consists of 9 observational tasks on mobility; this may cause significant patient and clinician burden.

ICF Domain

Activity ▶ Mobility


Approx. 30-45 min, 8-9 tasks (with 2 min of rest between each task).

Number of Items



  • Adjustable mat
  • Wheelchair Treadmill (with 3% and 6% grade)
  • Heart Rate monitor, Stopwatch
  • 0.10 m platform on floor
  • Wood doorstep height 0.4 m
  • Open space
  • 15 m corridor


  • Successful performance of the task (Y/N), time (seconds), and/or physical strain (peak HR) are recorded. Ability score (0-8 or 0-9): number of tasks completed adequately. For 3 tasks, 0.5 may be awarded if it is partially completed. Separate scores for ability (ordinal scale); performance time (seconds); and physical strain (formula using HR data) are calculated.
  • For the 8-item version:
    • Performance time score: sum of the times taken during “figure-of-8-shape” and “15m-sprint”
    • Physical strain score: mean peak HR between 3% & 6% slope tasks, expressed in bpm or %HRR



Training Required

None, however experience in exercise testing is helpful.


Can be found here

Measurement Property Summary

# of studies reporting psychometric properties: 6


MCID: not established in SCI


Performance Time: Task SEM
Figure-of-8 shape 1.5
Crossing doorstep 2.2
Mounting platform 2.3
Sprint 0.6
Transfer 12.2
Peak Heart Rate: Task
Figure-of-8 shape 6.8
Crossing doorstep 6.4
Mounting platform 7.7
Sprint 7.5
Walking 4.4
3% slope 9.1
6% slope 6.7
Wheelchair driving 6.9
Transfer 9.2

(Calculated from Kilkens et al., 2002: N=27; mixed injury types; final stage of clinical rehabilitation)


Test table Test
Figure-of-8 shape 4.1
Crossing doorstep 6.1
Mounting platform 6.2
Sprint 1.5
Transfer 33.8
Peak Heart Rate: Task
Figure-of-8 shape 18.9
Crossing doorstep 17.7
Mounting platform 21.3
Sprint 20.9
Walking 12.2
3% slope 25.3
6% slope 18.5
Wheelchair driving 19.2
Transfer 25.7

(Calculated from Kilkens et al., 2002: N=27; mixed injury types; final stage of clinical rehabilitation)

  • No normative data is available for the SCI population
  • Published data for the SCI population is available for comparison (see the Interpretability section of the Study Details sheet).


  • Inter-rater Reliability is High for the WC (Intraclass Correlational Coefficient = 0.97), WC – Overall task feasibility/ability (ICC = 0.76-0.98), and WC – Task feasibility/ability for individual items (ICC = 0.82-0.99) (Peak HRs)
  • Intra-rater Reliability is Moderate to High for the WC – Overall task feasibility/ability (ICC = 0.71-0.99), and WC – Performance times (ICC = 0.68-0.96) (Peak HRs)

(Kilkens et al., 2002: N=27; mixed injury types; final stage of clinical rehabilitation)


Correlations between FIM – mobility subscale, FIM – peak power output and FIM – VO2 peak and FIM – performance time score are High.

(Kilkens et al. 2004)


Standardized response mean between start of rehabilitation program and discharge is:

  • 0.6 for Ability score
  • 0.9 for Performance time score
  • 0.8 for Physical strain score.

(Kilkens et al. 2004)

Floor/Ceiling Effect

No values were reported for the presence of floor/ceiling effects in the WC for the SCI population.


Dr. Bill Miller, Matthew Querée, Gita Manhas

Date Last Updated

22 July 2020

Dallmeijer AJ, van der Woude LH, Hollander AP, van As HH. Physical performance during rehabilitation in persons with spinal cord injuries. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1999;31:1330-1335.

Harvey LA, Batty J, Fahey A. Reliability of a tool for assessing mobility in wheelchair-dependent paraplegics. Spinal Cord 1998;36:427-431.

Janssen TW, van Oers CA, van der Woude LH, Hollander AP. Reliability of heart rate response to non-steady-state activities of daily living in men with spinal cord injuries. Scand J Rehabil Med 1994;26:71-78.

Kilkens OJ, Dallmeijer AJ, De Witte LP, Van Der Woude LH, Post MW. The Wheelchair Circuit: Construct validity and responsiveness of a test to assess manual wheelchair mobility in persons with spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004;85:424-431.

Kilkens OJ, Post MW, van der Woude LH, Dallmeijer AJ, van den Heuvel WJ. The Wheelchair Circuit: reliability of a test to assess mobility in persons with spinal cord injuries. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002;83:1783-1788.