Editors At Large: A.R.T. Group’s Kids ROCK Active Chair

Kids need to move. Movement is the way they learn, the way they gain strength, the way they explore their environments and grow, physically and intellectually.

That’s true for children in wheelchairs, too. But for these kids, extraneous or uncontrolled movements — like the ones seen in clients with athetoid cerebral palsy — can work against them.  You’ve seen it a million times: A kid moves randomly or involuntarily, and suddenly he’s sliding out of his seating system into a not-so-comfortable, not-so-beneficial position. Or a child will reach forward or lean to the side, slip out of position, and be unable to reposition independently. This can happen many, many times a day.

So what typically happens to prevent this? To keep them in proper positions, kids are “locked in” to their seating systems. The problem is that by locking kids in, we can inadvertently prevent them from beneficial motion needed to feed themselves, participate in the classroom or play with friends.

Psychologically, we may create a seating and mobility system that makes the child feel trapped, stifled and ultimately, not very happy to sit in. Physically, says Cathy Mulholland, OTR/L, “Children who are non-ambulatory and have not had the opportunity to develop anti-gravity postural musculature to maintain their body in a variety of postures consistently have poor to fair muscle strength. It is not reasonable to expect the child to strengthen if they do not have the ability to move.”

The A.R.T. Group’s answer: the Kids ROCK wheelchair with Active seating. The seating system allows a child to extend and flex his body while maintaining proper positioning of the pelvis and therapeutic support.

How much flex? The seating system can accommodate up to 35 degrees of hip extension and 35 degrees of active range at the knee (resistance and range of motion are adjustable).

In laymen’s terms, the seating system is dynamic enough that the child stays properly positioned during and after moving — and dynamic enough to help prevent painful and damaging shear and prolonged pressure.

In clinical terms, Dr. Michael Hahn of Montana State University’s Department of Health & Human Development found that after six months of study, children who used the Kids ROCK Active Chair showed twice the range of motion in their hips and knees as kids in static seating. And kids who used the dynamic seating system also showed improvements in self-care, social functions and standing gross motor function skills.

The Kids ROCK Active Chair now is available in two sizes and is designed with five-year growth ability in mind, to minimize funding hassles. The new size 1 chair can be size-adjusted without removing the child from the system — a feature that may come in handy if satisfied customers balk at having to spend any time apart from their chairs.

“I am working with a patient who just trialed the new Kids ROCK chair,” said Robyn Green, rehab coordinator for At Home Health Equipment in Indianapolis. “This has made a world of difference for this patient, as she was bed confined and non-verbal (until) we got her in the chair. The staff was in tears because she has never made any attempt to be vocal or ambulatory. This had her smiling and talking a ton.”

Powerful testimony that putting this client in this chair was a smart move.   

A.R.T. Group
7477 E. Dry Creek Parkway
Longmont, CO 80503
(866) 725-7328

This article originally appeared in the January 2008 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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