New Motorized Wheelchair for Young Disabled Children

KENNETH M. JAFFE, MD*, DAN H. EVERARD, AND ROSS M. HAYS, MDSeattle, Washington


Powered mobility for disabled children is gaining increased acceptance, with children as young as 11 months of age learning to drive skillfully. Many powered wheelchairs prescribed for children, however, are merely downsized versions of products designed principally for adults. The Turbo(c) , a motorized wheelchair designed in Great Britain especially for young motor-impaired children, provides new dimensions of mobility, namely vertical, as well as horizontal, movement and upright, as well as seated, locomotion. The device's innovative features include a nontraditional appearance; drivercontrolled adjustable height seat and standing frame; a centrally pivoting rear axle that enables Turbo to climb curbs; growth accommodation from infancy to preadolescence by changing plastic seats or adjusting the standing frame; interchangeable electronic programs to vary acceleration, speed, and joy stick sensitivity; built-in jack mechanism for ease of changing tires; a safety stop mechanism; and ease of transport in automobiles. Fifty-five Turbos have been prescribed between August 1984 and September 1985 for children with cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, arthrogryposis, limb deficiency, and other disabilities. Thirty-eight percent of the users were younger than 4 years of age, and half were between 5 and 9 years old.

*Children's Orthopedic Hospital and Medical Center, University of Washington, 4800 Sand Point Way N.E., Box C-5371, Seattle, WA 98105