Pediatric Wheelchair Selection 

Kids Benefit from Pediatric Wheelchair Advancements

Today, power wheelchairs are technologically advanced and sophisticated enough to allow children, who are unable to walk, a freedom they were never previously able to experience.

The right pediatric wheelchair can allow a variety of positions for your child, including sitting, laying and standing so that the user can move around during the day while still remaining comfortable and functional.

Pediatric power wheelchairs are available in the same basic models as other power wheelchairs:

  • Rear-wheel drive models that can move fast but can be difficult to maneuver in tight places;
  • Front-wheel drive models that are a bit slower yet can make sharper turns; and
  • Mid-wheel drive models that have the tightest turning capability but can be less steady in stops and starts.

The pediatric wheelchair should be a single component in a complete support program designed to serve your child's needs, strengths and environment.

With this in mind, a complete assessment of your child's needs should be conducted by a medical professional to determine the best power chair for each child. Considerations include:

  • Which mobility controls are most appropriate;
  • Physical abilities and functional skills;
  • Ability to control his or her upper and lower extremities as well as head and eye movements;
  • Ability to use activating switches or joysticks; and
  • Needs for posture support and seating.

In addition to these considerations, you may want to look for a pediatric wheelchair that will grow with your child. Most power wheelchairs have adjustable brace supports and frame sections that can expand, so that your child's chair can be used for a number of years.

As with all mobility chairs, a pediatric wheelchair will require regular maintenance. Beyond normal cleaning, the hardware, tires, seat, braking system, control system and battery will need to be tested on a regular schedule.

On the social side of your child's wheelchair needs, take into consideration his or her lifestyle, temperament, how he or she faces social situations, makes new friends, deals with being different, etc. 

For instance, how will your child handle the frustrations of first learning to use the controls and maneuver a power wheelchair? Will he or she become impatient and quick to give up or will your child be determined? Will your child be embarrassed entering new environments and new experiences confined to the wheelchair? Or will he or she thrive in these circumstances?

Finally, you'll also want to consider how you intend to transport your child's wheelchair. For instance, power chairs are far heavier and bulkier than a standard manual chair.

Do you have a vehicle that's big enough to handle the chair? Do you have a lift or a rack that can handle the additional weight? Will you need additional help when transporting the wheelchair?

While pediatric power wheelchairs offer greater freedom than ever before, including the ability to allow your child to participate in activities at floor level or table height or even standing in some situations, they also require some important decision making.

Choosing the right pediatric power wheelchair is a process of balancing the needs of your child against the practicality of today's versatile chairs.

This article was written by David Silva.

More Pediatric Wheelchair Information
Cooling Wheelchair Cushions
Mobility Hand Controls
Wheelchair Batteries

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Published by Jules Sowder

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