The Wheelchair and Independence

Since 2008, International Wheelchair Day has been commemorated every March 1st. One of its goals is to recognize the achievements in the progress of people with mobility disabilities when they have access to a wheelchair. Therefore, this day is an opportunity to celebrate the positive impact of wheelchairs on the lives of the people who use them. Plus, it’s a great reminder to celebrate caregivers of people with significant mobility challenges.

The wheelchairs 

Wheelchairs are assistive devices for people with motor impairments. To choose the correct wheelchair, the guidance of a professional is necessary so a person with a disability can achieve a higher level of independence.

There are different types of wheelchairs. Standard wheelchairs are the most common; these do not have much functionality and are difficult to use. There are also specific wheelchairs for people with neurological challenges; wheelchairs with posture support that help maintain a sitting position; electric wheelchairs; and dynamic wheelchairs for people with mobility challenges from the waist down but with mobility of the upper limbs. In addition, there are wheelchairs for sports use, which vary from discipline to discipline.

The availability of many wheelchairs is why each person must receive specific guidance when selecting and using their wheelchair.

Three things you can do to support

Wheelchair users face spatial barriers when getting around. But beyond that, there are social barriers that can be changed. Today, we share three of them:

  1. Do not obstruct wheelchair access on sidewalks or parking lots.
  2. Do not use exclusive access for wheelchairs when you do not need them.
  3. Be aware that the achievement of rehabilitation is not for a person with a disability to walk but for them to reach their maximum degree of independence (this includes using a wheelchair).

TeletonUSA Foundation and wheelchairs

At TeletonUSA Foundation, we know how important it is for our patients to find the most suitable wheelchair. When needed, our medical team assists families in searching the adequate device based on the patient’s condition, necessities, and physical abilities.

At CRIT, physical and occupational therapists assess the patient’s wheelchair for proper use, fit, and any need for repairs. If there is a need for any modifications or size adjustments, therapists refer the patient to the Assistive Technology (AT) specialist. Here, the specialist will evaluate the patient and the need for change or a new chair. The evaluation includes the measurement and the patient’s overall motor control and mobility needs.

Once the measurement and wheelchair type are complete, the application to insurance or funding source begins. When the wheelchair arrives, the AT specialist ensures the proper fit and educates the caregiver on the appropriate use, storage, and maintenance of the wheelchair. The rest of the therapy team continues to follow up with the patient and will relay any information to the AT specialist regarding future modifications to the device.

Our daily goal is for our patients to achieve the most significant independence possible. That is why we provide orientation, rehabilitation, training, and maintenance to wheelchairs at CRIT so that the lives of our patients go smoothly!