Children with special-needs sometimes require a wheelchair for mobility. Getting around to explore their world, their life, their friends and family, and to formulate their own experiences will help them to adjust to their life. Mobility aids such as wheelchairs can make life less restrictive and more rewarding because they allow people with special needs to accomplish some of the activities of daily living.
To explore topics that are related to your child’s health condition, check out Crutchesguide.com’s health encyclopedia.
What to Consider When Selecting a Pediatric Wheelchair
- For ease of handling, shop for a lightweight model.
- But don’t sacrifice durability for “lightweight”.
- Make sure the chair adjusts as the child grows in both height and weight. Ask about the weight capacity of the chair. Does it comfortably support the child you’re shopping for?
- The chair should be fairly easy to get in and out of. Look for features like arms that flip back so that the child can be easily transferred into and out of the chair. (For example, you may want to think about scenarios such as the child moving to and from the wheelchair and the toilet, or to and from the wheelchair and bed.)
- For comfort, select a wheelchair that has padded cushions on the seat and arms, at a minimum.
- When shopping for a wheelchair for a specific child, you’ll, of course, want to take into account the child’s needs for mobility. Is the child able to propel the chair herself? Then a manual wheelchair, the type where the user pushes the wheels with their hands, would work. What if the child is unable to do that? There are electric motor wheelchairs that a child can “drive” by using a type of joystick.
- Think about how the chair will be used. Make sure the chair can do all the things it needs to, and go all the places you want.
- When the chair is not in use, how will you transport it? Does it fold up to fit in your car?
- Do you intend for the chair to be used both inside and outside? Make sure the type of chair you are buying is built for where you want to use it. Some chairs are best just for indoor use.
- And of course, don’t forget to do a fit test. If possible, have the child sit in the chair. Is he comfortable with it? Give it some time. You may need more than a short sittest to understand whether it will truly be comfortable long-term.
Learn more about other types of wheelchairs.
Learn more about getting the proper fit in a wheelchair.
Some Popular Pediatric Wheelchair Brands to Get You Started
Here are some manufacturers that specialize in pediatric wheelchairs, along with a few feature highlights for each.
- Offers a high-strength carbon steel frame
- Weighs only 30 lbs. But can support up to 250 lbs.
- Flip-back armrests to accommodate easy transfer in and out of the chair
- Special attention given to fitting smaller children, and adjusting as they grow
- Leg rest positioning, as well as seat-to-floor height adjustments, are easy to manipulate
- Flame-retardant upholstery and triple chrome plated carbon steel frame for durability.
- Known as a very comfortable chair due to the padded armrests, legrests, and seat
- Lots of adjustability features, including height-adjustable handles for the comfort of the caregiver behind the chair, legrests that can adjust in height, swing away and detach for ease of access
- Tires are deep tread, so they are suitable for both indoors and outdoors
- Known as one of the lightest-weight chairs, weighing only about 20 lbs. (about 10 lbs. less than most chairs in this class)
- Tall “antelope horn” foam hand rests for the caregiver’s comfort
- Comes with a clear feeding tray that stores away with the chair when folded for easy transportation
- A bit more expensive than most, but extremely adjustable to truly grow with the child long-term
- Very durable and lightweight, which can make it suitable for a child who plays sports while in their wheelchair
- The company will, for a fee, re-size the chair to fit the child’s new measurements when they go through a growth spurt