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Commentary on “Effects of Power Wheelchairs on the Development and Function of Young Children With Severe Motor Impairments”

O'Shea, Roberta PT, PhD; Boyniewicz, Kara PT, PCS, ATC

Pediatric Physical Therapy: July 2012 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 140
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e31824d6fce
Clinical Bottom Line

Governors State University University Park, Illinois

FUNdamental Therapy Ltd Chicago, Illinois

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

“How should I apply this information?”

This study provides support for early training with motorized wheelchairs to assist children to access their homes, leisure activities, and the surrounding environment. The findings help support efforts to enhance the development of children with severe motor impairments in areas of self-help, social behaviors, and receptive language.

This article helps physical therapists realize that families require guidance on several factors when introducing and using power mobility with young children. Most importantly, adult family members need to understand that using, maneuvering, and accessing power mobility can be a long process that may take their child several months or even a year to master. In addition, families need to be aware that the child will require a reasonable practice space to allow for exploration, discovery, and mastery of the technology. If the physical therapist can present the family with reasonable training guidelines that include how to encourage the child to explore rather than directly instructing the child, the family may be less frustrated by the learning process.

“What should I be mindful about in applying this information?”

Many families are still grieving their child's disability in the first 2 years of life, making acceptance of power mobility difficult for some. This study demonstrates that young children's abilities must be examined using a multifaceted outcomes approach. Being mindful of the limitations of the study, it is important to try and assess the sensorimotor and cognitive level of children when introducing powered mobility, as these factors may influence the child success. The study also verifies that influences on development may take a rather long time to become evident. We agree with the authors that a longitudinal follow-up study is warranted.

Roberta O'Shea, PT, PhD

Governors State University

University Park, Illinois

Kara Boyniewicz, PT, PCS, ATC

FUNdamental Therapy Ltd

Chicago, Illinois

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.