There are several things to keep in mind when considering a wheel chair for your child. Some children require a “basic” power chair, whereas others require a power chair with specialized features. Still others can manage very well at home with a manual wheel chair. Keep in mind that just as with adult size wheel chairs, pediatric wheel chairs can be customized to meet your child’s physical challenges. Regardless of which style you choose, it should be comfortable for your child and provide for them as much freedom of mobility as possible.
How To Choose A Wheel Chair For Your Child
1) Transportation – how will the pediatric wheel chair be moved from home to your destination? Do you have the right vehicle to transport a power chair if needed?
2) Transfer Analysis – how will the parent transfer the child in and out of the chair? Parents need to know there are tools that can help them protect their child and their own physical well being while transferring the child from place to place.
3) Child’s Physical Needs – what will the wheel chair have to do in order to accommodate your child’s specific needs?
4) Weight of the Wheel Chair – how heavy is the chair? Will the parent have to lift the chair on a regular basis?
5) Style – a pediatric wheel chair should have armrests and footrests that are movable or completely detach from the wheel chair.
6) Wheels – what sort of terrain does your child negotiate each day? Does he go to school? Does he participate in sports? What climate do you live in? Will you or the child have to motor through mud, sand, or snow?
7) Environment – is your home large or small? Will he be able to turn, back up, or get around easily within the home with the wheel chair you have in mind?
8) Social Interaction – does the chair place your child at the right height for a classroom setting? Adjustments can be made to help make your child feel like they fit in with their classmates.
9) Cross Braces – wheel chairs for children should “grow” with the child. In other words, a pediatric wheel chair should have cross braces that can be changed out as the child grows. Changing the cross braces is less expensive than investing in a new chair with each growth spurt.
10) Cushion – a high quality, comfortable cushion is an absolute must for a child. Your physical therapist can give you pointers in this area as well.
11) Support – depending on the child’s physical strength, a tilt-back or reclining feature may be required.
Parents know what is best for their child in almost every situation, but when it comes to knowing how to choose a wheel chair for your child, depend on the experts to give you assistance during what could otherwise be a very emotional and overwhelming experience.