Hello Everyone! Happy Thursday! I wanted to share with you a system I did back in the winter for a client of mine with Cerebral Palsy. She was a client that needed a sturdy, lightweight wheelchair that she could self-propel indoors. Although her family pushed her wheelchair in the community, it was still very much a priority for her to be independent at home. She formerly had a manual folding frame wheelchair that was very difficult for her to push. This was due to the weight of the chair itself as well as her spastic movements. She was also very hard on her last wheelchair as she transfers with A LOT of momentum. Due to her high extensor tone she had literally bent the back canes open several times and had loosened off and eventually stripped almost every screw on the entire wheelchair. (oy…..)
Initially, I began with trials of folding frame manual systems with power assist type products. This was pretty much a “fail” as the power assist wheels were too quick and difficult for her to manage. The system we ended up choosing included a rigid frame manual wheelchair called the Quickie Q7 by Sunrise Medical with a Prism Truefitt backrest by Future Mobility and Jay 3 Air cushion (Note: be careful with the Jay 3 cushion well size, it can bit a bit small for many clients and can load the GTs. It worked well for this client though! I also personally prefer the air version over the fluid version as the gel has a tendency to move out the back of the cushion and client often “bottoms out”). This system was provided by Brandon Misky from Motion Specialties. I ended up going with a rigid system because it was lightweight and durable. In order to help with her manual propelling, we ended up going with Natural Fit Handrims. These worked beautifully for her! This client had difficulty letting go of the standard handrims and would often get her fingers caught or let go of the rims at different times, causing her to veer to the right or left depending on which hand was left caught up. The Natural Fit Handrims by Quickie totally eliminated this problem. Yay!
I must admit, it was a bit complicated during the delivery and set-up of this system as she needed a semi-rigid pelvic support and dynamic backrest and I had never done this on a rigid frame before. Needless to say, there were a few “hiccups” along the way….
The dynamic backrest and semi-rigid pelvic bar were fabricated by James Cooper from Priority Posture Systems Ltd. Here are a few “obstacles” we ran into during the set-up/fabrication process: First, the frame on the new Q7 is oval not round. This made mounting of the dynamic backrest a bit of a challenge as most of the parts James had were meant to fit round tubes. The weight of the dynamic backrest was also a bit of an issue as it made the wheelchair more tippy. The wheels were therefore moved back to make the system more stable. That was necessary for safety when she transferred.
Second, the semi-rigid pelvic positioning system needed to be something that could be done up by the client independently. This was a significant challenge due to her tone and difficulty with positioning independently in general. We originally decided to go with a 4-point lap belt. This unfortunately didn’t work as the flex in the belt caused it to flip over. The client also had trouble managing the belt during transfers as she would often land on it and wouldn’t be able to get to it once she was in her system. We decided to switch out the 4-point belt and used the Body Point Evoflex system instead. This worked amazingly well! When the client unfastened the belt, it would actually maintain its position on the side (check out the Body Point Website for an image of this!). The custom fabricated ASIS pads were mounted to the Evoflex. This was necessary to further rigidize the system to prevent rotating of the pelvis.
The last issue that came up was the mounting of the armrests. Because of the positioning of the dynamic backrest, T-post style armrests were needed rather than the cantilever style that were originally requested. Due to the limited amount of real-estate on these rigid wheelchairs, mounting of all of these seating components was a bit of a challenge. A special thanks to Brandon and James who were able to troubleshoot with me to make this system work for the client. The hard work paid off and the client and family have been very happy with the system.
Thanks so much for checking in today! I hope some of these points come in handy if you ever set-up a system like this one. Feel free to send me your stories or feedback! Your comments are always welcome!
Seating is Super!