Topics this article covers:
- Types of equipment
- The process to obtain new equipment for your child
- How to determine if the equipment is right for your child
Types of Equipment
To assist your child to develop and thrive, different types of equipment are available. Equipment also exists to help us parents to make life a little easier. Every type of equipment has several brands to choose from.
Utilizing a stander & walker
Your child will need certain equipment for a variety of purposes, especially if your son or daughter is not ambulatory. Due to not having the ability to stand or walk, weight bearing with their legs and feet are essential. Therefore, having a stander to stand in and play is necessary. Walking in a walker will also help your child to practice walking and weight bear as well. Some kids with disabilities use canes.
Another type of equipment you will need for your child is a toilet chair if they are unable to seat independently. A bunch of accessories including a foot plate, straps, bowl adapter, deflectors, ankle straps and a tray can chosen from if necessary.
If your son or daughter has difficulty sitting in a tub or standing in a shower, a bath chair is a must. Strapping your special one in is essential to ensure their safety.
Toilet/ bath chair combo
Some brands of equipment combine the toilet and bath function. Therefore, you only need one chair for both toileting and bathing. It is up to your secretion if you want one chair for both.
Having two different chairs may be easier. That way you do not have to frequently move a chair from the bath tub to the toilet and vice versa. Plus, you would have to clean the bath/toilet chair more often after using the bathroom.
The advantage of having one chair is it is less expensive and one chair takes up less space.
Feeding/ activity chair
A special needs child requires to be positioned properly in order to be fed safely. Otherwise, you risk them choking and aspirating on their drinks and food, which can lead to breathing difficulties.
If your child is not ambulatory and/ or cannot walk long distances, a stroller or wheelchair is a must have necessity. You will need a stroller or wheelchair to transport your special one to school, therapies, activities, shopping, etc. Depending on your child’s position, tone and level of support needed, a customed wheelchair may be the way to go.
The process of obtaining new equipment
- Find a provider such as National Seating Mobility and NuMotion to help you. The provider can assist you to find the right brand of the equipment your special one needs.
- The representative will do a proper fitting to ensure the equipment will work for him or her.
- The representative sometimes will offer you to try a demo at home for a week or two.
- Once you decide on the equipment that is right for your child, the representative will follow the following steps:
- Obtain a letter of necessity from your physical or occupational therapist and ask the pediatrician to sign it.
- Ask your pediatrician to give the provider a prescription on the behalf of your child.
- Submit the letter of necessity and prescription to your insurance company.
- Your insurance company will approve or deny the claim. You will receive a letter from your insurance company if they approved or denied the claim.
- The representative will inform you of the out of pocket expense and ask you if you want to purchase the accessories not covered by insurance.
- Your child will have a final fitting to ensure if adjustments are needed.
- At the final fitting appointment, you will bring your child’s new equipment home.
How to determine if the equipment is right for your child?
When your special needs child needs new equipment, you should look at a few areas. Also ask yourself certain questions.
Depending on your child’s tone and abilities, the amount of support will be determined. If your child cannot sit by themselves and/or has difficulty being still, the support required will increase. The more your child is able to do developmentally, the less support they will need.
Here are questions to ask yourself and your provider and therapist:
- What strapping system is needed?
- Straps over the shoulders needed?
- Chest harness needed?
- A regular seatbelt or 3 point seatbelt at the waist needed?
- Feet or ankle tie downs needed for transportation to school or programs?
- Is there a securement system for transport?
- Does your child stay in the equipment or do they lean to the side or forward?
- Does your child need side laterals to support their chest?
- Is the equipment supportive enough?
- Tray for activity play needed?
- Is the equipment easy to handle?
- Do you need a canopy for block rain, snow and sunshine?
- For wheelchairs and strollers, does it come with a basket for storage?
- Does the equipment have enough padding? Is it comfortable?
- Will any of your child’s body parts such as a arm get stuck in the piece of equipment due to tone? (For example, my daughter often puts her arm behind her back. Therefore, her arm gets stuck in side bar of the stroller.)
- How long will this piece of equipment last? In other words, when will your child outgrow it? 1 year? 2 years? 3 years?
- Is the equipment safe? Or will your child injury herself or himself somehow by moving a certain way? (My daughter often kicks and bruises her legs from kicking the lower part of the stroller.)
- Will the equipment fit in your home or vehicle if it’s a stroller or wheelchair?
- If you are looking at a walker, is your child able to walk in it independently or do they need assistance?
- Know all of your options; do your research
- Ask other special needs parents who have used that equipment before.
- Talk with your therapists to get their input and suggestions to ensure you find the right equipment.
- Ask the representative to try a demo for a week or two
- Always get a size that your child can grow into. Do not buy a size that they will outgrow in a year. If you do purchase a size that they will outgrow quickly, you are wasting your time and money.
Choosing the right equipment for your child is challenging without a doubt. You more than likely will purchase equipment at least once during your child’s life that is not the best for your special one, which is ok. Hopefully, this article will prepare you to choose the right one.
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