Mobility For The Ages

It is amazing and a bit overwhelming to me to think that everyone, everywhere, has a story to tell. Some people might not think they have a story, but they do. It's the story about their lives, the twists and turns, and the ups and downs, the setbacks and the triumphs. It is even more interesting to think of how all of these stories interconnect.

Recently I attended the Abilities Expo in New Jersey and I was fortunate enough to hear a few people tell their stories. A woman shared with me how she was diagnosed with post-polio and how she has to balance being active and not overextending herself as it makes her symptoms worsen. She said it is difficult because her mind is always active, but her body doesn't always "keep up." Another man, who plays quad rugby with the United Spinal Jets, told me how he dislikes the stereotype in the media of people with disabilities turning to alcohol as an outlet. He mentioned that his wheelchair is just a component of his life and it doesn't define who he is as a person. He said, "I have a job, just like other people." A manufacturer shared his story of how he left another industry to join the HME industry and pursue an invention that could help people in wheelchairs travel up and down stairs. Many people with disabilities mentioned that the Abilities Expo offers inspiration through its sense of camaraderie and innovations in technology that allow more freedom and independence.

In this issue we bring you a special 15-page mobility story of our own — Mobility for the Ages. This special feature demonstrates how the connection between manufacturers, dealers and occupational and physical therapists works to serve the needs of the consumer. The relationships in our industry are powerful and result in mobility.

In three main sections, Pediatric, Adult and Senior Mobility, dealers shared their thoughts on their favorite mobility products and physical and occupational therapists chimed in with mobility safety tips and advice on positioning. Manufacturers also provided us with mobility products to showcase in each of these age brackets.

We hope our life span of mobility products showcase how manufacturers, dealers and specialists work in sync to improve the story of so many people's lives.

Here's what a few providers and clinicians had to say:

Pediatric Mobility


"Baby-size children may benefit more from an adaptive stroller rather than a wheelchair, but that's not always the case. Usually, though, the families are looking for something that can fit into the family car. And sometimes they choose a stroller over a wheelchair for that reason, where it's a matter of mobility, in other words, transporting it is an issue." — Tim Caruso, senior PT, Shriners Hospital for Children, Chicago

To check out more strollers, visit Pediatric New Products.

Manual Chairs

"There are folks that believe there are no such things as pediatric wheelchairs; they're just adult chairs scaled down. The thing about any piece of equipment is that you need to make sure that it meets the needs of the user." —Tim Caruso, senior PT, Shriners Hospital for Children, Chicago

"I think the latest rage these days is lightweight, manual chairs. And there's a difference between lightweight, ultralightweight and the titanium frame chairs. I think there is evidence in the literature that people who are propelling manual chairs over time do develop problems with their shoulders and pain in their shoulders from overuse. So having a chair that's lighter weight, if the child themselves is going to be able to propel it, is important." —Tim Caruso, senior PT, Shriners Hospital for Children, Chicago

"My own son is in a (Sunrise) Quickie and has been for more than 17 years. Ryan started in a Zippie® TS and still has one. It is by far the most versatile and durable TS (tilt-in-space). Ryan's first Zippy TS was nine years old when it was replaced. It had been grown twice and refinished twice, with no repairs between. To this day, Ryan still has one and uses it every day. I frequently spec out the Quickie Zippy TS for my clients. Their parents are always very pleased with the ease of operation and the durability." —Ben Kennedy, Custom Mobility Inc., Largo, Fla.

To check out more manual chairs, visit Pediatric New Products.

Power Chairs

"The elephant in the room is still how young is too young for kids? … I think the important thing is not to rule (power mobility) out in kids that may have the ability to do it. I think it's worth a good look at kids, even younger children, the possibility of putting them in a power chair in order to increase their independence. And you'll increase their independence infinitely if you could get them in a power chair and it allows them to get around and explore their environment vs. having to rely on someone else to propel them. … But you also want to make sure that they have the ability to do it. And there are some things out there, some screening tools, etc. that allow you to do that. One being… a screening set called Ready, Set, Go: Powered Mobility with Young Children. It's a screening tool that Jan Furumasu put together out at Rancho Los Amigos. That's a good place to start for people who aren't familiar, and it kind of gives you some guidelines to getting kids into power mobility. It gives them a little driving test and an assessment of their ability… The other issue with power chairs for kids is where will (the power chair) be kept, how will it be stored, how will it be transported, and who's going to do the maintenance of it?" —Tim Caruso, senior PT, Shriners Hospital for Children, Chicago

"I like that one (the Permobil Koala) due to the size and mobility. I like (that it gives a) child access to their total environment. (The client response has been), I'm not sure how to say it, but it's kind of like a warm feeling. They accept it almost as a toy. It's something they can relate to." —Toby Bergantino, ATS, CRTS, Connecticut Rehab, Newington, Conn.

"The Permobil (C300) has, in my opinion, the most durable and problem-free multi power seat function system on the market. I spec a lot of high-tech power and go to the Permobil product the most. Its long-term durability is what works for my clients. The frames are easy to adapt and customize once you understand the product. For someone in a power chair, there is nothing that makes for a bad day more than breaking down. My clients and I have found that Permobil doesn't leave them stranded." —Ben Kennedy, Custom Mobility Inc., Largo, Fla.

"(The Sunrise Quickie Freestyle is) a mid-wheel-drive power wheelchair …(with) a small base to it, which makes it very maneuverable … The turning radius (is) small because half your chair is behind you and half of it's in front of you. It actually pivots right on your hip area… so you're turning right on the midline just like you would turn if you stand up and pivot. … It actually has six wheels that touch the ground… So, instead of having four wheels touching the ground with a set of anti-tippers up off the ground, this has six wheels on the ground, and what that does (is) it makes it a lot more stable. You don't get the forward 'tippiness' that you would out of a typical mid-wheel-drive chair with anti-tippers. So it's a very stable chair. It has about a 3-inch 'climability' over an obstacle, but … you don't get the teetering out of it … (Having) a small base also … is good for pediatrics because you have a smaller base for a smaller child for accessibility areas. … Actually, it's stable enough that you can put a center of gravity tilt-in-space on it and custom seating. …They have a different seating system that can mount onto (it) and you can put rehab seating into it, which makes it good for your population that has less trunk control or balance. … It works for all the age groups. That's the reason why I use it. It's just a good all around chair. I use it for pediatrics and adults." —John Kristof, CRTS, Custom Mobility Inc., Largo, Fla.

To check out more power chairs, visit Pediatric New Products.

Standers & Gait Trainers

"If it's someone who's not ambulatory, (standards allow) them another perspective on their world. If all they do is sit in their chair all day, that's not good. There's still the issue of putting weight on the bones, strengthening the bones. … The benefits of standing are to strengthen the bones, that's one, but the others are it improves digestion, it improves lung function, it also does some stretching of lower extremities, it improves circulation, those kind of things. … Ease of access is (also) very important, how you get in and out of it and how a child is put in and out of it. Is it safe for the child and is it safe for a parent? Because some standers require that the parents pick them up to put them in, and that can be problematic." —Tim Caruso, senior PT, Shriners Hospital for Children, Chicago

"I love the (Jenx) Monkey (Prone-to-Upright Stander from Bodypoint) for those early intervention kids from 2 to 5 years of age. It is very easy to adjust, and parents and kids alike find it to be aesthetically pleasing. The Monkey doesn't look like a cold therapeutic piece of equipment." —Dave Marriott, PT, ATP, CRTS, Chesapeake Rehab Equipment, Baltimore

"The (EasyStand) Magician works very well with the end-user but also with the help: the providers or the parents or whomever is helping. … It doesn't matter how big the kid is or how tiny the kid is, a lot of times you need more than just two hands to hold them in there and then while you're holding them, you need someone to strap them in, you need someone to do this and that and it just takes too much to put them in the stander. This one is one that really just takes one person. And it makes it much easier for everyone to utilize that stander. … Not only is it an actual stander, but you can also use it as somewhat of an activity chair in a school surrounding or that type of environment or even in home use. The (child) can do certain other activities in the sitting position as well because the (stander) allows for the tray to go as far down (as) to the sitting position. There's not another standard that I know of that does the same. … You have a range to meet on that Magician, but on the

This article originally appeared in the June 2006 issue of HME Business.

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