Movement sets people into action fuelling self-sufficiency while fostering independence. The ability to ambulate is not only useful for physical health, but for mental wellbeing. Motor skills are often impaired to varying degrees in individuals who have Cerebral Palsy. Some individuals need assistive devices – walkers, canes, gait trainers, standers, or orthotics – while others use wheelchairs to get from one point to another.
The benefits of being as independently mobile as possible are far reaching, from muscle strength and dexterity to bone and skin health. In addition, movement stimulates appetite, circulation, and intestinal tracts while preventing stroke-causing clots, urinary incontinence and infections. Physical, occupational and recreational therapy can be utilised to optimise a person’s ability to be as independently mobile as possible.
Once a chair with simple wheels that needed to be operated manually, today’s wheelchairs are modern marvels of technology.
Today, power chairs can be operated with the touch of a switch, the turn of a joystick, or a steady gaze from the eye. Chairs are endowed with sensors and other features that enhance functionality, comfort, and mobility. They are made for travel, recreation and fitness. Additionally, making choices regarding what wheelchair will best serve a child or adult is more complex than ever before, simply because of the diversity of what’s available in the marketplace.
Sport specific wheelchairs
Just as other sports require participants to use certain equipment and skills, wheelchair sports require a certain set of equipment and skills. There are a wide range of sports developed for wheelchair users including archery, basketball, racing, rugby, and tennis. Whether a beginner looking to start playing a wheelchair sport, those with advanced skills, or professional athletes, there are a huge range of sports wheelchairs available depending on the sport and the level at which the user plays. Sport wheelchairs are rarely suited for everyday use, and are often a ‘second’ chair specifically for sport use, although some users prefer the sport options for everyday. Some disabled people, for instance lower-limb amputees, may use a wheelchair for sports, but not for everyday activities.
Mobility solutions are divided into 2 main components:
For many Cerebral Palsy patients who are not able to walk mobility solutions open a whole new world for them, their parents and care-workers. We assist with the following components:
The seat and the mobility base.
Bases are available for a wide range of activities, such as strolling, commuting from one point to another, and for static roles. Off-road and specialised bases are available to allow for mobility in a wide spectrum of activities.
For patients who have cognitive abilities, but who cannot ambulate, motorised bases with a variety of control mechanisms, give these patients independence and access to any environment. Of cardinal importance is the actual seat system. For many Cerebral Palsy patient’s spinal curvature is inevitable, and it is critical that the system not only supports the child, but corrects existing curvatures.
We use both modular and custom made seating and mobility systems to enhance sitting positions and activity levels, while controlling and managing (or preventing further) spinal deformity.
The modular seating systems are adjustable for optimum positioning and can accommodate several years of growth or changing morphology without having to buy a new seat.
Fitting trial and assessments are often done in conjunction with the therapist, because they are usually more familiar with the patients range of movement and tolerances and abilities.
Other benefits and features of our seating systems are that they can be clipped off the mobility base (buggy) and used as a car seat, integrated into the car’s existing safety belt system.
Thorough assessment will ensure that postural goals and abilities are accurately determined and that outcome expectations can be met.
Most frequent questions and answers
Although a lot of mobility buggy’s and chairs look similar, there are some which are only designed for mobility. In many C.P. children, the spine is overlooked when selecting a seating system. Scoliosis is a common spine deformity in C.P. While many systems seem like they are capable of correcting the deformity, they don’t have features which either prevent further deformity, or correct existing deformity of the spine.
As the trunk collapses under the influence of gravity, the lowest rib (12th) rib will contact the top rim of the pelvis. This is a very painful situation, and many C.P. children cannot tell you that they are in pain. Secondly, as the trunk collapses, the lungs become compressed, and breathing becomes exponentially more difficult. Thirdly, if the forward trunk movement is not controlled, the child will find it impossible to swallow.
The management of C.P. children’s seating needs must be viewed as a 3 dimensional problem, and the solutions need to be 3 dimensional too.
Important considerations are:
- What accessories are required (E.g. O2 bottle).
- Each seating solution is as individual as the patient him/herself – there is no one-fit-all blueprint.
- Each complication needs to be dealt with and incorporated into the seating and mobility solution.