As a teacher, you’re aware of how quickly children grow. And if your student is growing out of their wheelchair, it is more than likely affecting their learning. Here are some quick questions that can help you check if it’s time for a professional wheelchair evaluation:
Does the back of the chair support your student properly?
Supporting the head and shoulders is essential, particularly if your student has poor muscle control. Customized headrests not only make your student more comfortable during the long school day, but they make it easier for them to look upward and interact with children and teachers who are standing. With a proper headrest, the back of the chair should be at least as high as the lower edge of their shoulder blades to support their upper trunk.
Is the depth of the seat adequate (but not too long) for their height?
You want your student to be constantly sitting in a stable position to enhance their focus on lessons. The depth of the seat enhances trunk stability, and it is also critical to avoid accidentally tipping over the chair. The horizontal distance from their tailbone should extend to about two fingers’ width from the backs of their knees so that their skin is not rubbing against the seat.
Is the width of the seat accommodating to their size?
When looking at your seated student from the front, ensure their outer thighs are close to the edges of the chair. Again, you don’t want their legs to be rubbing against the sides of the wheelchair, but you also don’t want there to be too much space. The closer the wheelchair width matches their body size, the more support and stability their pelvis and trunk will have, making upper body movements easier.
Are their lower legs appropriately supported?
When seated, your student’s knees and ankles should ideally be resting at 90-degree angles. Swing-away footrests can make it easier for students to get close to tables for group projects. Elevating leg rests can provide comfort during the school day, especially from swelling, such as after a surgical procedure.
Adaptive wheelchairs are a particular passion of ours here at Clinics Can Help. Each day, we collect, clean, refurbish, and donate new and gently used wheelchairs for children because of developmental conditions, post-surgical rehab needs, fractures, and sports injuries. We do this work because research has shown that individuals who access appropriate medical equipment heal faster, are protected against further injury, and have the independence necessary for a higher quality of life.
Our KINDER Project (Kids in Need of Durable Equipment RightNow) provides adaptive durable medical equipment (DME) and supplies at no cost for families of children with special needs. The DME we offer includes wheelchairs to provide kids mobility and independence to complement their learning.
We now have several lightweight chairs that are easier for teachers and parents to transport than adult wheelchairs. They are much easier for students to propel and come with “flip-back arms,” allowing easier transfers during the school day, such as visits to the bathroom. -These wheelchair modifications allow students to slide their chairs under a table to become an active part of the classroom’s social group more easily. We can equip our wheelchairs with extended brake levers if needed.
Teachers, please call us at 561-640-2995! One of our friendly staff members will be happy to talk with you anytime about your student’s wheelchair needs so that school can again be their primary focus.
You or your student’s parent or caregiver can fill out our online general contact form. Suppose your student is already working directly with a therapist, rehabilitation nurse, or physician. In that case, that professional can also specify the type of wheelchair your student needs by using our Assistance Request Form.