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Get Moving Bobath Paediatric Powered Mobility Workshop 11113

by Paul Nisbet

on Thu Nov 07, 2013

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Last week I was fortunate to attend a brilliant workshop on Paediatric Powered Mobility at Bobath Scotland in Glasgow. It was organised by Sandra Mackay and colleagues at Bobath, and featured Ros Livingstone and Debbie Field from Sunny Hill Health Centre in Vancouver. Ros and Debbie are presenting a paper at the European Seating Symposium in Dublin this week, and were kind enough to stop off in Scotland to give us a workshop. 

In the workshop Ros and Debbie covered several topics, and one of them was a systematic review of the evidence base for the impact of powered mobility on the development and lives of people with disabilities. Here are some conclusions based on the research:

  • lack of independent mobility makes children passive and may adversely effect cognitive, sensory and social development;
  • children with disabilities need the same opportunities to be mobile at the same age (i.e. very young, from crawling and rolling age), as other children;
  • children as young as 24 months can learn to drive powered wheelchairs;
  • use of powered mobility has positive impacts on independence, receptive language, social skills, functional skills, quality of play, behaviour, peer and parental perceptions of the child;
  • use of powered mobility does not prevent a child from learning to walk;
  • children can learn to drive a wheelchair at an earlier developmental age than they can learn to use computer technology;
  • children with learning difficulties can learn to drive powered mobility aids;
  • the main factor that effects learning to drive is time and practice.

This seems clear then: powered mobility is really important for child development. 

Here's another way of thinking about powered mobility: by not providing a means of independent mobility to young disabled children, they actually become more disabled than they would have been, had they learned to be independently mobile. 

Ros, Debbie and colleagues at Sunny Hill have created some very useful web pages with links to research, guidance on assessment, provision and training, and notes on access methods and devices, and on different types of mobility aids. 

Some of the Sunny Hill information on wheelchairs, switches and controls is not that appropriate for the UK, so inspired by their example over the next few weeks I will add some new pages to the Smart Wheelchair section of our site, with resources and links that are specific to the UK.

Powered mobility aids needn't be expensive - take a look at Cole Galloway's Go Baby Go switch adapted cars from Toys R Us.

Tags: powered mobility, wheelchair

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