Adaptive Seating and Wheelchair Decisions

The time has come for us to really start thinking about and acting on getting Andrew adaptive seating for the home and a wheelchair. Aside from his beloved bouncy chair, Andrew has been using the Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair as his primary seating device.  It was a long road getting Andrew to even tolerate sitting in it. Now that he sits in it fairly well, we have found that he needs significantly more support for the head and trunk.

Here is a Andrew sitting comfortably in his Fisher Price seat.

With the help of Andrew’s physical therapist and an equipment vendor, we tried out two different chairs that seemed appropriate. The first is called the Wombat Snug Seat Model 347. Here is a photo of Andrew all snapped in:

Some notes on the Wombat chair:

  • It is seating designed specifically for the home.
  • It has wheels so is easily rollable. It can be adjusted high (so Andrew would be able to sit with us at a table) or low (so Andrew can interact with his sister on the floor.)
  • It offers a 22 degree tilt and comes with many head rest options, including one with speakers.
  • It is 24×28 inches
  • Comes with dorsal flexion
  • Cost is approximately $4500
  • We like that it is fairly compact compared to other seating devices.
  • Andrew sat in it happily for over an hour!
  • Lots of lateral support so that Andrew’s arms were free to rest on the tray.

The vendor also said that the Wombat XPanda model is very popular as well but the cons, in her opinion, outweigh the pros. Mainly: It’s over fifty pounds and cumbersome to adjust straps/tilts/heights. And while it does come with a stroller base, the stroller base is also very large and heavy.

We also tried out a new model of a Rifton chair.

Rifton chair notes:

  • At 25×36 inches, much wider and longer than the Wombat.
  • Rifton chairs last for a long time and are known as an industry standard.
  • Andrew could use it longer as the growing capabilities offer more.
  • No tools necessary to adjust tilt/height/straps.
  • Only one head support option, which isn’t enough for Andrew.
  • Comes with a rocking option for children who rock/stim.
  • Took about twice as long to get Andrew strapped in than the Wombat.
  • Does not offer dorsal flexion.
  • Upholstery is easier to clean than the Wombat.
  • Does not offer enough lateral side support to free up Andrew’s hands.
  • Cost is approximately 5k.

Here is a photo of the two chairs, side by side:

We decided to go with the Wombat chair.

We also considered stroller wheelchairs and decided on the Convaid Cruiser.

The Convaid Cruiser without Andrew

The Convaid Cruiser with Andrew in it

This was a fairly easy decision and online research seemed to confirm that it’s a very solid stroller wheelchair option as well. It folds up easily, is adaptable up to 100 pounds (Andrew is just under 20 pounds right now), fairly light compared to other stroller wheelchairs, and as far as wheelchairs strollers go, on the more aesthetically pleasing side as well. I like that while it looks a lot like a stroller, it is also very clearly a wheelchair. Something in the middle.  Andrew fell asleep in it as soon as we put him in so we took that as a thumb’s up from him. We’ve been in need of a stroller device with more support for some time now. We’ve mostly been strolling Andrew around in his Graco Snug-Ride car seat with the Snap and Go, a combo abandoned by most parents by 7 months of age (he’s 18 months now!)

We are ordering the Wombat and the Cruiser through the Early Intervention program so we hope that both items get approved and we can receive them in a timely manner. It was admittedly a bit difficult at first to see him strapped into the equipment. Even though we have known about Andrew’s disabilities for a long time, it felt as if we were stepping into a new phase of Andrew: the transition from Andrew the baby to Andrew the disabled child in a wheelchair. But those thoughts were quickly pushed aside as we saw all the possibilities in terms of feeding and other therapies that the new chairs would offer.

Other adaptive changes for us to consider in the next couple of years: adaptive bath seating, a more appropriate car seat (any suggestions?), a wheel chair adapted car, moving into a home that is more wheelchair friendly, and obtaining a handicap parking placard.

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1 Response to Adaptive Seating and Wheelchair Decisions

  1. tracey says:

    We are going through the adjustment to adaptive seating options too. The transition from ‘baby’ to ‘disabled child in a wheelchair’ is what I am having trouble with, but you are right, when it makes life easier for them that is the important part. Glad to have found your blog!

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