In some cases, children with cerebral palsy require special assistance of mobility devices in order to make it easier to move around and carry out daily tasks. Wheelchairs are often a popular choice for children with mobility issues as they come in different sizes and different accommodations, which makes it easier to find one that fits individual lifestyles and needs.
The electric wheelchair is generally chosen more than any type of wheelchair for children with cerebral palsy.
There are a number of electric wheelchairs to choose from with a few different features, such as headrests or chair positions, but the primary feature that attracts parents to an electric wheelchair is the operative components.
Some children, due to their disability, don’t have the kind of motor control of their arms to operate a traditional folding wheelchair, but an electric wheelchair is operated by a joystick that is sensitive to light touch.
Traditional Folding Wheelchair
A traditional folding wheelchair may not have as many features as other wheelchairs, but it may be a good option for a child who can move his or her arms enough to propel the wheelchair forward.
A traditional folding wheelchair is typically the most affordable option as well as the easiest to access. It’s also a good temporary option for a child who is close to being able to walk with a walker and for travelling, as a traditional folding wheelchair is much more mobile and can accommodate more modes of travel.
Standing Electric Wheelchair
If your child can stand but not walk, another option is the standing electric wheelchair. It looks a little like a Segway, a standing wheelchair that provides full support along the child’s backside, including a headrest. The back support is at a slight backward angle to help balance at a comfortable level. A joystick is included in a standing electric wheelchair, generally locate at the armrest.
Although standing electric wheelchairs are generally more expensive that other types of wheelchairs, they assist in improving the strength and balance.
In addition, by standing, the child experiences more circulation in the lower extremities. This is particularly beneficial for children with cerebral palsy as dormant areas of the brain can create inactivity in the lower muscle groups, and therein cause problems when bruises or injuries don’t heal. Proper circulation prevents these everyday injuries from becoming a problem, and also helps to prevent bed sores from relative inactivity.
Therapeutic tricycles are an excellent way to provide the security and balance that your child needs while simultaneously working on strength and motor control. With a therapeutic tricycle, your child can have fun, work on strengthening leg muscles, and likewise feel more confident in his or her independence.
These are generally recommended for adults or children of an older age as they are developmentally more challenging for children with cerebral palsy.
Primarily intended for adults, hand cycles are intended for patients who suffer paralysis due to cerebral palsy or other birth injuries, such as spina bifida. Hand cycles are specifically designed for the patient to sit in the provided chair with comfort and support, using the arms to propel movement.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 58% of all children with cerebral palsy walk independently, without assistance. Around 41% of children with cerebral palsy need help with walking, and 31% used wheelchairs for assistance.
In addition, in a United States population-based survey carried out by ADDM CP Network, results show that race may play a factor in children with cerebral palsy who have mobility issues. Black children, according to the study, were at least 1.7 times more likely to experience mobility issues when compared to white children. However, the difference only applies to children who have severe cases of cerebral palsy.