Prescriptions: Assisted Devices & Mobility Equipment
An Assistive Device is any device that helps a person with a disability to do something that they are unable to do without assistance, thus giving that person more independence. Assistive Devices are not only equipment like wheelchairs, hoists, ramps and adjustable beds, but also smaller items that can also be known as “accessories” like:
- adapted eating utensils
- hand braces and wheelchair gloves
- transfer boards
- shoe horn and dressing stick
- grab rails
- tap turners
- computers, computer programmes, iPads,
A mobility aid is a device designed to assist a person with a mobility impairment to improve their mobility. There are a wide variety of products which can help persons with mobility impairments, which include:
- Walking aids: This includes equipment such as walking sticks, crutches, and walkers, which are for those individuals who need assistance walking.
- Prosthesis: This includes leg, arm and hand prosthesis, for those who have lost a limb.
- Mobility scooters: These are for those persons who can’t walk long distances but are able to use their hands & are able to transfer in and out of the scooter.
- Manual wheelchairs: This includes a variety of different styles of Manual wheelchairs and includes rigid and folding wheelchairs.
- Wheelchair cushions: There are many different types of wheelchair cushions available e.g. gel, foam, honeycomb, memory and custom-made. A cushion should suit the disability you have and the wheelchair you are using, so an assessment (SEATING ASSESSMENT) of how well you sit in your wheelchair and the problems you are likely to have sitting for several hours is the first step in selecting a cushion that is right for you. The right cushion should give you a comfortable ride and increase your wheelchair use.
- Power-assist wheelchairs: for those persons who use a manual wheelchair but battle to push the wheelchair and need assistance up hills.
- Motorized wheelchairs: are for individuals with more severe disabilities, who cannot push a manual wheelchair. Motorized wheelchairs are also useful if you need to travel medium distances without using a motor vehicle.
- Standing wheelchairs: Supports the user in a nearly standing position. They can be used as both a wheelchair and a standing frame, allowing the user to sit or stand in the wheelchair as they wish.
- Shower chairs or commodes: are for those individuals with severe disabilities who need assistance getting from the bed to the shower, etc.
- Sports and off-road wheelchairs: Are wheelchairs that are used in a variety of different sports and activities for persons in wheelchairs. Examples of these activities include basketball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair dancing, off-road activities and mountain climbing, etc.
Deciding which type of rehabilitative or assistive technology would be most helpful for a person with a disability is usually made by the person with a disability and his or her family and caregivers, along with a team of professionals and consultants. The team is trained to match assistive technologies to specific needs to help the person function more independently. The team may include family doctors, regular and special education teachers, speech-language therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and other specialists, including representatives from companies that manufacture assistive technology.
Appropriate assistive devices help people with disabilities overcome or compensate, at least in part, for their limitations. Rehabilitative technology can help restore function in people who have developed a disability due to disease, injury, or aging. Rehabilitative and assistive devices can enable individuals to:
- Care for themselves and their families
- Learn in schools and other educational institutions
- Access information through computers and reading
- Enjoy music, sports, travel, and the arts
- Participate fully in community life
Assistive devices also benefits employers, teachers, family members, and everyone who interacts with users of the device or technology. Increasing opportunities for participation benefits everyone.
Assistive devices and mobility equipment for children are particularly important as well as challenging to prescribe effectively. There are many developmental and physical and environmental factors to consider with equipment for children so that the devices are appropriate and effective and facilitates growth and development and prevents complications. Equipment prescriptions for children must be regularly re-evaluated and re-considered as growth and development is a dynamic process and changes are inevitable.
All assistive devices and mobility equipment prescriptions are carefully considered within the parameters of best practice and funding options (private/medical aid).
Not all equipment and assistive devices may be approved or funded.
The Rita Henn and Partners therapy team will introduce you to the various suppliers and some suppliers may offer a trial/loan device. Some suppliers may assist with the actual application to the funder and may even send through the quotes. Although you are guided by various professionals, it is in your best interest to make yourself familiar with what is available and what funding you have allocated.