Tuesday, December 17, 2013

on the cheap: upcycled hoodie as pediatric wheelchair support cushion

We have been dealing with a wheelchair dilemma with Mason. His custom wheelchair (a Kimba with Squiggles seat) is awesome for school and out and about. However, it is heavy and we don't have an accessible van or ramps at our house yet, so we prefer to use the Kimba for outings and school, rather than having to unload it at home also.

That put us on the search for a "transport" chair for around the house; he is getting quite heavy to carry from room to room (and if you have ever tried to lift 32 pounds of "dead weight" you know it can be brutal to do all the time), so we needed something to ease our back strain. And he needed something more supportive than a stroller. We also wanted it to be big enough to grow with him, and to have big wheels that he could roll himself if he decides he wants to push himself as he gets older. However, it isn't time for Mason to get a new custom wheelchair (due to insurance requirements) so we had to improvise in order to get him something both that met the above requirements, and especially was affordable.

What we ended up with is this chair--Excel Kidz Pediatric Wheelchair.

It is about the smallest "standard issue" type pediatric chair we could find online. (I found one smaller but it was out of stock everywhere). It was too big (14" wide by 12" deep) for Mason as is, so it will grow with him; it has telescoping handles which we love (although one handle wouldn't stay in the up position when it arrived - we had to screw it up manually using a drill).

So...while this chair met Mason's need for light, portable wheelchair to use in the house, it didn't have much support. I had already gotten a contoured cushion for the seat but he still had too much room on each side.

I looked online for back and lateral cushions to add but couldn't find any that would fit his kid-sized wheelchair; and all the other sizes cost way too much anyway.

So I ended up using an old zip-up black hoodie upside down with the sleeves filled with towel rolls as lateral supports and a piece of foam and towel rolls inside as a back cushion.

I put a thin cutting board inside a pillow case with foam over the articulating leg rests so he won't slide into the floor (I don't know how to rig a pelvic abductor.)  Any suggestions there?

  Not perfect but until we can find something better it'll have to do for now.
Update: this fix was temporary as he settled into the foam rather quickly and the support still wasn't enough. We have adapted it again by putting our "Special Tomato Soft Touch Sitter" into the chair and has been working great for months.

Mason's Mix

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