child and their first wheelchair

Michael, my son, was an expert at using a walker by the time he was 3 years old. We practiced on walking daily and I firmly believed he would walk on his own someday. I was stunned one day when I picked Michael up at Pre-Primary Impaired (PPI) only to find him scooting around in a very small wheelchair. Three emotions hit me all at once – heartbreak, shock and dismay. I never gave a wheelchair a second thought as I never believed Michael would ever need one since he was doing so great with his walker.

Unbeknownst to me, his therapist was teaching him how to move around in a wheelchair. I was not prepared for the moment when I was told that Michael would have to use a wheelchair. I felt heartbroken again and the tears flowed freely! Even though they tried to put a positive spin on things by saying Michael would be independent, it was painful and frustrating all at once. Did they give up on Michael? Were they taking the easy way out?

This is how Michael became a wheelchair user at 3 years old. Next, I had to deal with the insurance company in which their policy stated that he was only allowed ONE wheelchair for his lifetime! Michael needed a new wheelchair every 3 to 4 years and we had to fight tooth and nail to get them approved.

A proper fitting is crucial for a child as they can develop sores and other injuries if the wheelchair is the wrong size. When Michael was around 6 years old, we got him a new wheelchair and we took him to the University of Michigan Hospital to see a specialist. He was not happy and sent out a technician to make sure the chair was fitted correctly.

Always have your doctor or therapist inspect your new wheelchair or better yet get their input before ordering a new wheelchair. Your child’s health is paramount and you always have to look out for their best interest.

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