July 3, 2014
Do you think your young child would benefit from a motorized wheelchair, stander or ride-on toy?
Often, power mobility is overlooked as an option for children under the age of seven; however, many children with severe mobility impairments benefit from the use of power mobility options at ages as young as 12 to 18 months.
If you think your child might be a good candidate for power mobility, our Corpus Christi therapy team has some advice for you to consider.
What are the benefits of power mobility?
- Independence –Your child gains the ability to independently explore his or her environment. Exploration is an important aspect of your child’s growth in areas such as spatial awareness, visual perception, cognition and social-emotional development.
- Improved mobility – Improved mobility leads to improved initiation of activity, decreases learned helplessness and improves interactions with other children.
- Conservation of energy – Power mobility conserves your child’s energy and allows your child to focus on learning.
How do young children learn to use power mobility?
Candidates for power mobility should have the ability to understand or learn to understand cause and effect.
This is because learning to use a power wheelchair is like learning to walk. Although you should supervise your child, you must allow for exploration and mistakes.
The best place for your child to learn to use their new device is in an area free of clutter. You may provide instructions but keep them simple such as, “stop” and “go”.
If you’re worried about your child’s safety, maintain a low speed on the wheelchair, use bumpers and ensure there is an emergency stop switch available.
What are the challenges of power mobility?
Accessibility and transportation are the primary challenges of power mobility, particularly in the home.
If your child will use power mobility, you should ensure your home has clear pathways for travel and an accessibility ramp.
You should also consider whether your vehicle can support the transportation of a large and heavy wheelchair or if you can afford to purchase a wheelchair-friendly vehicle.
How can I obtain power mobility for my child?
If you’re interested in learning about the costs associated with power mobility options for your child, contact your insurance provider.
Obtaining a power wheelchair is a team effort that includes your child’s physician, therapist and either an adaptive equipment provider or a durable medical equipment provider.
For more information about power mobility options and how they can help your child lead a richer, fuller life, contact your child’s therapist.