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Pediatric Wheelchairs The Right Wheelchair for a Child

  • Published: 2009-01-29 (Revised/Updated 2010-07-13) : Disabled World.
  • Synopsis: Advice on choosing the right pediatric wheelchair for a child with disabilities to enjoy mobility and activities of childhood.

Main Document

There are all sorts of variables to take into considerations when it comes to picking out the right wheelchair for a child.

Pediatric, or child wheelchairs, are mobile aids designed for and used by children. Children require the use of a wheelchair for many different reasons, some may have suffered head injuries, some have muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, some are amputees, and others only have an occasional use of their wheelchairs in lieu of a walking device or crutches.

The modern wheelchair will come in a variety of diverse sizes and shapes depending upon the purchasers specific requirements. When choosing a child's chair it can be very problematic as there are countless variables which need to be taken into consideration.

When you buy a child wheelchair the specific needs of the individual child are of paramount significance. What is the child's health? Does he or she need a lot of physical support? Or, is he or she very active? Each of these considerations will impact what type of chair is needed and what elements you include in the chair you buy.

Children with disabilities needn't miss out on all activities of childhood if you properly choose the right type of pediatric wheelchair so their mobility is enhanced.

There are all sorts of variables to take into considerations when it comes to picking out the right chair. One such consideration is transportation. So while an electric power chair is popular among kids and adults alike, a more lightweight wheelchair might be more easily transportable. A child who has good upper body mobility and does not need a lot of back or head support, a manual chair may be the best choice. Lightweight sport models are very maneuverable by hand, and can provide a very active child with the tools to participate fully in most physical activities, including sports.

Choosing a child wheelchair can be tricky as there are many things you need to take in consideration; here are a few tips, which I hope will be of assistance when choosing a child wheelchair in the future.

Since you will be maneuvering your child around your home and transferring him from wheelchair to chair you would probably want a lightweight wheelchair for that purpose. Choose one with detachable hardware so you can get the wheelchair as close to the chair as possible to save on back strain.

Also consider which type of wheelchair would be best suited for school and any other activities your child participates in. Of course the most important consideration is that you choose a wheelchair that meets with the doctor's specifications.

You can opt to purchase a wheelchair that is the size of your child and then buy a larger chair as your child grows. Or you can buy a wheelchair that grows with your child. Nowadays, many wheelchairs come with the ability to grow and adapt as your child grows. You can start out with a chair that has lower speed controls and exchange them for more powerful ones as your child grows and can handle a more powerful wheelchair.

Certain types of pediatric wheelchairs are built to expand in size to accommodate increased bulk and weight by altering a cross balance on the bottom of the chair. The front frames for the legs can be lengthened as your child's legs grow longer. A wheel chair such as this can last for 10 years or longer making them a wise investment.

Also, you want your child to be comfortable. Select cushions that are not overly soft or rough so your child will be comfortable sitting for long periods of time. A cushion that is too thick will be uncomfortable and one that is too thin will not provide enough support. Be sure to choose a pediatric wheelchair with a footrest that is low enough so that it allows the seat to be in contact with the entire thigh.

Other considerations that are not as important are the style and color of the wheelchair. Although, these options might mean more to your child than they do to you. There is no need to settle for a depressing gray or brown metal framed chair. Pediatric wheelchairs can be purchased in lively colors such as red, blue, or pink and decorated with stickers and painted flowers so they are more appealing to children.

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.

Of course, price is probably not of the most importance when you consider what type of wheelchair best suits your child. Of greater importance is the fact it meets your child's needs as fully as possible, while providing them the most mobility they can have. For children's wheelchairs, keep in mind that if you need to purchase a power wheelchair, the motor should be significantly powerful enough to carry the child through his or her day at adequate speeds to keep up with his or her peers, such as when they are playing or running, and without having to recharge the battery more than once per day.

You can see that there are many things to consider when picking out a pediatric wheelchair. Do not rely on price alone. Pricier does not necessarily mean better. You want a wheelchair that is comfortable and provides proper support. It should be easily maneuverable to make things easier on both of you. Remember that you can buy your wheelchair cushions separately to further customize your pediatric wheelchair.

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