Powered Mobility for Young Children

SUSAN DOUGHERTY, PT


Use of powered mobility for children is still new to some practitioners. It is an option for children with diagnoses including cerebral palsy, myelodysplasia, arthrogryposis, and muscular dystrophy. Consider our mobility options: we choose among boats, bicycles, cars, and snowmobiles. We certainly are not limited in our ways to move around. Children also have the same need to move about and play. Mobility for a child is not an exercise; rather, it is something that should be accomplished with ease.

Basic seating goals are that of increasing function and comfort, improving the quality of life and self image, and normalizing tone. The child needs to communicate and interact with peers and to keep up with them physically. Children who are given the opportunity of powered mobility are likely to become more physically active and motivated, and not lazy. Children without mobility are often more verbally demanding and manipulative. Seating evaluations must consider needs at home, school, transportation, and community for the patient and the family. Many testing kits and types of switches are available to aid evaluation. Switches can be operated by any body part, such as the chin, head, mouth, hand, elbow, or feet. Joysticks, push/pull switches, and microswitches are available.

Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children, 516 Carew Street, Springfield, MA 0 1104