SEATING - SHONAQUIP
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CORRECT WHEELCHAIR
Ensuring that children have the correct devices means that they are able to attend schools and participate in their communities. Every child and user has unique needs and it is vital that the appropriate chair is prescribed and fitted by trained professionals.
Wheelchairs are meant to function efficiently, meet individual needs, be appropriate to local environmental conditions and provide proper fit and postural support, based on sound biomechanical principles (WHO, 2011).
Reducing waitlists for children in need of wheelchairs
The waiting list for children in need of wheelchairs in South Africa is often very long, sometimes more than 3 years. For growing children, not having device or having an ill-fitting one with inadequate posture support, can lead to spinal deviations and contractures. This robs the child of opportunities to live, learn and socialize like other children. Fatigue, discomfort, or challenging behavior can worsen the impact. At its worst, inappropriate seating or the lack of regular reviews, may have life-threatening consequences for the child with a mobility impairment.
When caregivers are shown how to position their child correctly during everyday activities and how to adopt a 24 hour positioning routine to prevent secondary complications, they can enable the participation of the child. Devices include active wheelchairs, posture support buggies and wheelchairs, standing frames, school seats, side and vehicle positioners to maintain good alignment when the child is out of his/her wheelchair.
Uhambo works with skilled and experienced seating practitioners and technicians from Shonaquip to provide wheelchairs backed up by comprehensive wheelchair services. They mentor local therapists to build capacity of local seating service providers.
On outreach trips into rural areas, it is typical for our team to come across teens with disabling mobility impairments who have never been fitted with a wheelchair before. Many of these children already have complex deformities, and developmental delays from from being isolated and under-stimulated. They can be counted among the most marginalized youth in the country with few future prospects.
Repair and Upscaling
Mobile Outreach Seating
Mobile units are able to make an amazing difference in the lives of children and their families. In a 3 year study, our outreach seating model of 6-monthly assessments and the provision of appropriate devices has been proven to reduce the development of pressure sores from 2% to 0.26% and new spinal deviations from 35% to 0%.
Impact of Low-Quality Wheelchairs
The majority of the current providers use the principle that “something is better than nothing” when you are poor. They do not provide wheelchair designs that provide both size- appropriate and adjustable body support together with robust frames that can be effectively used and maintained in under-resourced and remote, sandy and muddy areas of the world.
Container loads of second hand, poor quality wheelchairs are donated by well-meaning individuals and charities around the world for developing and poor countries. In the majority of cases these donations create more harm than positive impact. The chairs are distributed with no consideration to the medical implications, clinical support, fitting requirements, modifications, maintenance or repair needs. The wheels and frames often cannot survive the terrain in which they need to be used.