Pediatric Wheelchairs Tips

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What are electric pediatric wheelchairs?

Electric Pediatric Wheelchairs

While not as common as manual pediatric wheelchairs, electric pediatric wheelchairs do exist. These are usually used by children who are unable to use a manual wheelchair and self-propel the chair, but are old enough and have enough mobility to use a control for their powered chair. Electric pediatric wheelchairs are quite expensive, costing over $5000, and they do have weight limits, meaning the child will most likely grow out of the chair. The unique challenges posed by getting a wheelchair for a child mean that you should be sure to have a professional medical supply company fit the chair.

What are some pediatric wheelchair accessories?

Pediatric Wheelchair Accessories

Pediatric wheelchairs, like adult wheelchairs, are often used for extended periods of time by the children who need them. Also like adult wheelchairs, pediatric wheelchairs can have accessories built into them or added on, in order to make the child using the chair more comfortable. Some popular accessories include trays (both swing away trays and see through trays), pouches, baskets and bags, and other small items like drink holders. Other accessories available for wheelchairs include padding and cushions for the wheelchair seat, and even wheelchair pushing gloves (for those kids who can self-propel their chairs).

What is pediatric wheelchair customization?

Pediatric Wheelchair Customization

Most pediatric wheelchairs can be customized to fit your child. In fact, some wheelchair companies will not even sell pediatric wheelchairs online, because they often need tweaking and customization to fit the specific child. Other wheelchairs come with built-in customization kits. Other chairs offer customization in the way of different chair seats and bases, to fit a growing child. A kid's wheelchair is very tricky to fit, so it's often better to go into a medical supply store to get your child fitted for their chair.

What are pediatric wheelchair lifts?

Pediatric Wheelchair Lifts

One item that most parents and caregivers must deal with when they have a child in a wheelchair is transportation. Pediatric wheelchairs usually do not fold the way that some adult wheelchairs do, so it's not as easy to move them from place to place. As pediatric wheelchairs (both manual and electric) are too large to put in a car's trunk, wheelchair lifts are often needed, as well as vans that can accommodate the lift. Power, or electric, wheelchairs are heavier, so reinforcement of the vehicle might also be needed. The cost of having a vehicle modified to contain a lift for your child's wheelchair can be covered by health insurance, so it's important to find out all of your options before purchasing a lift.

What are pediatric wheelchairs?

Introduction to Pediatric Wheelchairs

The idea that some children need to use wheelchairs in order to move around is a sad one. However, the fact remains that children who can't walk; this can be because of illness, birth defects, or injuries. For these kids, pediatric wheelchairs can give them the ability to interact with other children their age – because they are able to move around. Pediatric wheelchairs are built on the same principles as adult wheelchairs, but have modifications, such as smaller sizes, more support for backs and heads, and straps that keep kids from slipping from their chair. There are various types of wheelchairs that are able to be used by children, some for those who can only move slightly, and even manual types that can be wheeled by the child themselves. No matter what type of disability a child has, there is sure to be a chair that can aid their mobility.

What are some accommodations for kids in wheelchairs?

Accommodations for Kids in Wheelchairs

If your child needs a pediatric wheelchair, he or she may feel unhappy or different from other kids. They also might feel as if they can't get around as easily, or that they can't do the things they'd like. One way to make your child feel better about their wheelchair is to make some simple accommodations. Make sure that your home is wheelchair friendly, meaning that all doorways are wide enough and all stairways are either replaced or supplemented by ramps. Choosing a chair that allows different amounts of reclining can also be a great accommodation for a wheelchair bound child – that way, they can stay comfortable throughout the day.

What are the different types of pediatric wheelchairs?

Types of Pediatric Wheelchairs

As with adult wheelchairs, there are different types of pediatric wheelchairs available for children to use. Manual pediatric wheelchairs are generally used by children who have enough strength to push the wheels on their own chair; or in certain instances, by parents or caregivers who will push the child around as needed. These wheelchairs are not meant to be used by those children who have severe disabilities and can't move on their own. Motorized wheelchairs, or electric wheelchairs, are also made in pediatric sizes, but are often custom designed for individuals. These chairs are much more costly, and while manual chairs can often grow with the child, motorized chairs tend to need replacement more frequently.

How do I choose a pediatric wheelchair?

Choosing a Pediatric Wheelchair

While it may seem that it would be easy to choose the correct pediatric wheelchair, there are actually very many items to consider. Be sure to pick a wheelchair that can grow with your child, if you anticipate your child will need the chair for a lengthy amount of time. Most well-made pediatric wheelchairs can last between ten and twelve years. Also be sure to choose a chair that will suit your child's temperament; some pediatric wheelchairs are made so that they can be used in sports, while others are more suited to children who prefer quiet pursuits. You will also need to determine your child's ability to propel their own chair, and whether or not they'd be able to control a power (electric) pediatric wheelchair. Finally, your doctor is the best resource for choosing a wheelchair, be sure to get his or her specific recommendations.

Can standing wheel chair frames help my child's mobility?

Standing Wheel Chair Frames for Children

Now you can say to your children, "Stand up straight," even when they're in child wheelchairs. If your child still has use of both legs and isn't an amputee but requires a wheelchair, standing frame pediatric wheelchairs give her a boost. If she needs an alternative to her walker or crutches, standing frame child wheel chairs are easier to operate and have room to place her bookbag, cell phone, sports equipment, science projects, or CD player.

Standing frame child wheel chairs lessen conditions like progressive scoliosis, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy (wheelchair-bound kids have a high risk of hip dislocation), and build skeletomuscular strength, improving range of motion. Children with arthritis can do physical therapy during their normal daily activities, and feel confident. This is especially true for children who are recovering from temporary illness or injury.

Changing positions from standing to sitting in conventional wheelchairs can put unneccessary pressure on muscles and joints. Inappropriate positions can cause tremendous pain.

The upshot? Your child can be more confident. Kids hate being shorter than their peers, but with a standing frame chair, your son can look that starting forward on the school basketball team in the eye. No need to worry about being left out of class trips, dances and carnivals! Your child can win that ring toss with the improved muscle tone and coordination from all that exercise. You may worry about muscle spasms with many diseases, but standing frame pediatric wheelchairs can decrease these so that your child can hit the bullseye with a steady hand.

One of the best benefits of a standing frame wheelchair? You can hug your child and get hugged back. That's definitely a reason for your kids to stand tall and proud.

How wide should my child's wheelchair seat be?

Child Wheelchair Seats and Cushions

Kids have a hard time sitting still. Even when they do sit still they need to be comfortable. If your son is reading Harry Potter or The Hobbit, you definitely don't want to break the spell with a wheelchair seat that doesn't fit.

Fortunately, child wheelchairs are designed to accommodate kids' squirminess. The typical seat width is 11 inches or 27.5 cm. You can request some adult wheelchairs in kids' sizes. If your child still wiggles around, invest in comfortable foam seat cushions for when your child is on the move or has to sit for long periods such as doing homework. Cooling cushions and heating pads can be therapeutic too.

Tried everything? Your son may just need to be out of the chair. No matter how adaptable the wheelchair, wheelchairs can be hard on the back. A standing seat option or standing frame wheelchair may be the way to go.

So now when your kids won't sit still and listen to you, take comfort. It's not their pediatric wheelchairs, they're just being kids.

How can my child protect her hands and knees with a manual chair?

Helmets, Gloves and Elbow Pads

What do you always say as parents?

"Wear your helmet."

"Don't go out without your hat and gloves!"

"Where do you think you're going without elbow and knee pads?"

Child wheel chairs don't, and shouldn't, give your kid a "No Parenting" pass. The proper equipment gives them more independence. Invest in kneepad protectors, fabric attachments for the lower frame of child wheelchairs.

You can still use the hat and gloves line. Select Velcro-sealing tough but soft gloves just like the ones kids use for scooters and bikes. For kids in manual pediatric wheelchairs, chapped hands and friction are constant problems. No one likes to feel self-conscious because of red and blistered hands.

Also, don't forget softening lotion such as Vaseline or Johnson and Johnson baby oil. Your kids should also carry hand wipes for that common parental complaint, "Wash your hands--you don't know who touched that last!"

All that parental advice will make your kids grumble, but secretly, they'll feel happy that you care.

How can I adjust a wheelchair as my child grows?

Growth Kits, Growth Options

Your precious little girl cuddled in your arms and just cooed whenever she was happy. Now she's too big for her bed...and her wheelchair. You want her to be healthy and safe, but you can't keep buying brand new child wheel chairs.

Now, you don't have to. The latest in wheel chair accessories for children: Growth options or "growth kits" that come with growth child wheelchairs or can be purchased separately—they're more affordable than buying new child wheelchairs.

More than mere wheel chair accessories for children, growth kits allow you and your kids to make adjustments to pediatric wheelchairs as your little angels with wheels grow. Growth kits include replaceable components that you can expand to larger sizes. For example, the Colours pediatric wheelchair line by Permobil offers new wheelchair frames with upholstery and footrests.

Think your insurance won't pay? Sometimes insurance companies do cover growth kits, depending on your policy. Ask the underwriting department or check the fine print. If you don't have insurance, growth kits are still a relatively inexpensive option.

After all, no matter how fast your child grows, she never will outgrow your love.

Is there a way to dress up my child's wheelchair?

Cool Wheel Chair Accessories

Kids can be cruel to each other. Sometimes other kids can't see beyond the wheelchair to the fun best friend/science expert/Monopoly champion you know your child is. The answers are simple:

1) Help your child to be outgoing.
2) Never let her give up.
3) Accessorize!

There are wheel chair accessories for children and adults that can add sparkle to child wheelchairs, or at least can pump up the "cool" factor. Some suggestions:

• Mounts to hold laptop computers, boomboxes or cell phones for older kids and toys for younger kids
• Desktops so kids can play board or card games with friends
• Spoke guards in different colors or with pictures of dolphins, the American flag, or a happy face
• Seat covers in animal prints
• Cup holders

Children can get creative with pediatric wheelchairs. That picture from art class, decals and stickers, glow-in-the-dark garlands on the handlebars, a photo of the family pet, bumper stickers with funny (not offensive) sayings...a child's imagination and enthusiasm to dress up the world has no limits. Encourage creativity, it's the best accessory of all.

What are the best wheel chair accessories for children? Friends.

What are manual pediatric wheelchairs?

Manual Pediatric Wheelchairs

Manual pediatric wheelchairs are the most common type of wheelchair used for kids. These wheelchairs are not propelled by machinery or motors, so either a caregiver or the child themselves must move the chair along. This can be accomplished by either pushing the wheelchair from behind, or using the wheels to move the chair. For smaller children, and those who must be tilted back (because of their medical condition), wheelchairs that must be pushed by an adult work best.

How do I choose an electric wheelchair for my child?

Hot Wheels--Children's Electric Wheelchairs

Children are meant to run around and be active, whether they're in child wheel chairs or not. A highlight of childhood is to run through the house with a parent calling, "Slow down! Don't climb that wall! Don't run across that floor, I just washed it!"

If you're in the process of selecting child wheelchairs and want your child to have easy mobility, electric child wheelchairs are perfect, assuming your child doesn't need to build up upper body strength. Electric pediatric wheelchairs like the F-Tuffcare Challenger Pediatric can be expensive, but several wheelchair stores offer discounts and Medicare may cover them.

The investment is worth it for children who have arthritis, amputations, cerebral palsy or a variety of conditions. Electric wheelchairs make getting around at school easier, and have mobility indoors and outdoors. Plus, kids love to drive and love motors. Many electric wheelchairs can be customized so that they look like sports cars with bright colors. Other children are just fascinated by your child's awesome wheels!

Some tips to remember:

• If your child needs physical therapy, encourage him or her to leave the wheelchair. You can't sacrifice muscle strength. Many parents have alternated electric wheelchairs with standing lifts. The Levo Combi Jr. helps your child stand, tilt, recline, and even lie down comfortably.

• If you can, modify the chair so that your child can stand up safely.

• If you have a pool, teach your child about water safety. Electric child wheel chairs and water don't mix. Swimming is liberating for disabled people, but make sure that the electric wheelchair is kept far back from the pool.

Now you can relax and have the joy of yelling out the usual parental warnings: "Be careful or you'll break your neck/put someone's eye out/give me a heart attack!"

What's a good wheelchair choice for kids younger than five?

Wheelchairs Before Kindergarten

Your children are paralyzed or unable to walk, but they're not old enough for child wheelchairs. We know you love your kids no matter what and want their ride to be smooth even though their life isn't.

Take heart: You can choose pre-wheelchairs, pediatric mobility aids, that look like bumper cars. The Tumble Forms Ready Racer is a cool way for your child to get around indoors. Your son or daughter can scoot around with other kids in a race-car-style conveyance that has the maneuverability of pediatric wheelchairs. The Ready Racer builds up upper body and arm strength and improves perceptual motor skills while allowing your child independence. Your child can tear around across that shag carpet. And other kids will think it's awesome!

Just be mindful of safety as you are with any other wheeled contraption your child would drive, although the Ready Racer is safer. Also, the Ready Racer is mainly intended for indoor use.

As an alternative, the MiniBot and GoBot from Mobility4Kids offer the same freedom as the Ready Racer. However, the MiniBot operates in closed spaces while the GoBot can handle dirt, grass and carpet.

Anothe choice for the stroller crowd is the Kid Kart, which is easy for parents/caregivers and comes in bright colors. The Kids brand child wheel chairs are designed just for use by toddlers. Since both of these need you to push them, you may not want to use them for long if you desire to give your child more independence.

*Get the adjustable handle for easier carrying and handling. Enjoy life with your hot rodding child!

Can my child still play sports in a wheelchair?

Sports/Lightweight Chairs for Everyday Use

Even if your little basketball/soccer/gymnastics fan shudders at the idea of being athletic, she can still use lightweight/sports child wheel chairs with wheel chair accessories for children, such as spoke guards with the NY Knicks logo.

Sports/lightweight pediatric wheelchairs have become popular by parents selecting child wheelchairs for daily use. They look sporty, with colors such as "slime green," and move easily. Sports child wheelchairs gently handle the rough-and-tumble days of childhood. They're also easy to transport by car.

"Lightweight" doesn't mean lack of support. When you have your child measured for a wheelchair, your doctor or mobility aid specialist will make recommendations about wheelchairs that will support your child. Lightweight pediatric wheelchairs offer the same support as other child wheelchairs—they're just easier to operate. Consult with your doctor about lightweight child wheel chairs.

Even if your child claims to be allergic to sports, she won't hesitate to get active and play outside with her friends, or go cheer on her favorite team.

Can my child still play sports in a wheelchair?

Child Wheelchairs and Sports

Your child was born with big dreams as well as limited mobility. Your daughter loves racing and soccer, but you're worried that child wheel chairs won't let her bend it like Beckham.

Many pediatric wheelchairs such as the Little Dipper from Colours by Permobil let your child play sports and, even better, help child wheelchairs fit in the team van. Your Pete Sampras can enjoy team spirit and Gatorade with his friends thanks to a dual axle rear receiver that allows him to roll into the van and onto the tennis court, then win the match! The dual axle rear receiver, which you can request, also helps off the tennis or basketball court.

There are also sport-specific child wheel chairs such as the QuickIe T-Tube Racer, if you want to encourage sports participation to the max. However, this may not be an affordable option for every family. The Little Dipper additions are a great alternative.

No one likes to be picked last or left on the sidelines, and kids need physical activity. After all, you always knew your little girl could do anything the boys could do...and better!


Types of Pediatric Wheelchairs

When choosing a pediatric wheelchair, first consider whether or not your child will be able to propel themselves in the chair. Pediatric wheelchairs can be modified as your child grows, but it's best to choose the pediatric wheelchair that will suit your child for the longest period of time. If your child will be able to wheel their own chair in a short amount of time (consult your physician), you may want to choose a chair that can be both pushed and wheeled.

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Guru Spotlight
Jolyn Wells-Moran