Must watch: Power wheelchair for babiesApr 30 04:41
I’ve always felt a common bond with babies since my injury, being keenly aware of their default immobility (until they figure out how to get around by themselves). I always feel like saying to a crying baby in a car seat, “It’s ok. I got you,” knowing all they want to do is get out and run around (don’t we all).
And they can’t help it. It’s human nature to want to explore, to be free and moving. And the sad thing is that a lot of babies with disabilities, although that burning desire is still there, their disability makes it impossible to explore. As it currently stands in the power wheelchair world, for the children who will eventually need a powerchair, they usually don’t get one until they turn 5. That’s 5 years of development, or growing and learning, out the window (and stuck in a manual chair they can’t operate).
For babies, once they’re 6 months old they begin to reach for (and crawl towards) things they want. This is a critical step in the development of a child and is also an important time because it’s when the brain grows quite a lot. And here’s where the injustice resides. For babies with significant mobility disabilities - Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, MD, Spinal Muscle Atrophy - there’s no way they’d ever be able to push themselves. They get the raw end of the deal, staring at wall after wall, waiting for someone to push them. Doesn’t sound very fun, or healthy, does it?
That is why James Galloway, an associate professor of Physical Therapy from the University of Delaware, along with the help of a mechanical engineering professor, created the world’s first power wheelchair for infants from 6 months old up to 3 years old (called “Biotech Tech Robots for Babies“). I’m sure a lot of parents reading this are wondering how they can get one, but the bummer is that only one has been made so far, and it is for their university project.
I’m really hoping this video goes more viral than it already is, shedding light on this hugely important issue. Maybe, if the stars are aligned right, a wheelchair company will buy Galloway’s design and start selling these bad boys. It would be a huge HUGE benefit to infants and little ones with disabilities if this happened. It would give them a chance to be as active as any other kid. And every baby certainly deserves that chance, don’t you think?
You can watch their power wheelchair in-action (being helmed by the cutest baby girl) here
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1. Just an FYI | May 01 03:17
A baby, or rather, a young child, with Spina Bifida would probably be just fine with maneuvering a chair. Upper body strength is usually not compromised at all.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.