Empowering through powered mobility

On International Wheelchair Day (1 March), we celebrate the positive impact that a wheelchair can bring to someone’s life.

At Yooralla, the Therapy team work closely with people with disability and their families to prescribe and utilise the powered mobility that works best to support them to achieve their goals.

Anne-Marie Dickinson, a Yooralla Physiotherapist, has seen firsthand the positive impact of powered mobility on people’s lives.

“Powered mobility is great not only to get around, but also has a range of other benefits.

“Currently, a young male customer we support has received a sit-to-stand wheelchair through the NDIS that has had enormous benefit to him.

“It has increased his independence by supporting him to change his position from sitting to standing, assist with circulation, pressure care management and even utilising special fabric for heat management.

“Powered mobility has really come a long way and helps to increase a person’s independence and also support them recreationally,” said Anne-Marie.

Evidence and experience have also shown that having access to early powered mobility promotes cognitive, social and emotional development in young children.

Anne-Marie said that there is a notion that children can be too young to use powered mobility, but this has been disproven.

“At the moment, powered mobility is being prescribed for children as young as one year old, who are making great progress.

“Currently, we are supporting a customer who has been using a Wizzybug since she was two and half years old,” she said.

The Wizzybug is a fun, innovative motorised wheelchair specially designed to empower young children with disability and support them to keep up with children their own age.

“Now four years old, the customer has progressed to the next stage of powered mobility, using a koala chair.

“This has allowed her even more independence, and I foresee that she will be using this same chair as she progresses to primary school – allowing her to keep up with other children her age,” said Anne-Marie.

Therapists are involved throughout the entire powered mobility process. First assessing the needs of the customer, then recommending and prescribing the most appropriate form of powered mobility before supporting with the implementation process.

“The support can be something like working with an internal or external therapist to set up a training program at a school for a customer who uses powered mobility,” said Anne-Marie.

“The Therapist would be supported to set designated times with a customer to teach them how to use their wheelchair. This can start with the very basics, like turning it on and off, then progressing through the different stages of using the equipment.”

At Yooralla, Therapists who don’t have experience in the powered mobility space are also supported by their Senior Clinician to gain knowledge in this area.

Yooralla provides specialist therapies and interventions for children with developmental delay or disability, recognising the importance of early intervention in building a child’s functional capacity. Read more about Yooralla’s Therapy team.

There are also important things to keep in mind when you see someone using powered mobility. Peter Johnstone, a Yooralla customer, shared some important insights in 2020 in recognition of International Wheelchair Day. Read more.

For more information on International Wheelchair Day and how you can get involved, please visit https://internationalwheelchairday.wordpress.com/.

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