Charlie currently uses a Power Wheelchair, but this wasn’t always the case. From the age of 2 until 7 Charlie was using a Manual Wheel chair. Initially we started off with the standard NHS Self-Propelling wheel chair, which at the time was brilliant and Charlie certainly managed to manoeuvre himself rather well and it gave him independence which was brilliant. We coped with this for approximately the next 2 years until we realised that the weight and design of the chair was actually holding him back.
We decided it was time to do some research into other options and see what was out there. We spoke to our local wheelchair service, who were unfortunately not much help and didn’t really give us any options. We took to google and YouTube to help us to make an informed decision. After much shopping around we finally found what we wanted on Facebook, a second hand “Quickie, Action Junior” which was being sold in London and was purple!
So, it was time for a road trip to collect it! Much was our excitement for Charlie to try it I convinced my Brother to come with me, so we could make the round trip in the same day. We got home and tried the chair out straight away, and I think Charlies face says it all! He loved it!
Obviously the colour was not to Charlies taste, but we were very lucky and a good friend of a friend who owned a powder coating company who agreed to powder coat it for free Charlie in his favourite colour! So I dismantled the chair (this was much more complex than I ever imagined!) and off to the powder coaters it went!
Charlie took this chair fantastically and the weight difference was unbelievable between this and the NHS chair. This became Charlies primary chair for the next two years and was fantastic for him.
As Charlie was getting older we noticed that he was actually becoming a little more isolated at school, perhaps due to the fact that he always needed an adult with him on the playground to ensure he didn’t tip over. We mentioned this to our Occupational Therapist (OT) who asked if we had considered a Power Chair. In all honesty we had considered this but always been of the mindset that whilst Charlie has the ability to self-propel why would we? Surely we wouldn’t want him to lose that ability? The more we thought about this the more we could see the benefits of a powered chair and the freedom that this may bring.
We decided that we would at least explore this as an option and were given an appointment at the Wheelchair centre. We had already spoken to our Occupational therapist who had recommended a chair that would be right for Charlie (A Quickie Salsa M2 Mini).
More information on the chair here: Quickie Salsa M2
When we got the appointment, Charlie was measured up and we were told our options. None of which were right for Charlie and none which the OT had recommended. However we had done our research and knew which chair would be right! We had to be rather stern in our approach and when we mentioned the Salsa the initial response was an outright no, and we were told this is not something which was available to us.
However we were adamant that this would be the right chair and mentioned that we had the backing of our OT. After a little while he finally succumbed and agreed that the Salsa would be a good option for Charlie and is something we can access! I can only presume that this comes down to cost and that the service is told to offer basic chairs to people. This has made me wonder how many people out there are currently in inappropriate chairs because they are not aware of their options! My advice would be to speak to your OT and do your research on what’s available as there is a strong possibility you will not be told all of your options!
From the day Charlie has had his power chair his confidence, freedom and ability to engage with his peers has improved massively. This really was the best decision we could have made, and Charlie is in his element!
If anybody is currently going through a similar process and would like any advice on our journey please feel free to get in touch! Equally if you would like any more information on the Wheelchairs we have used I am more than happy to chat through these!
Has anyone had any similar experiences to us? Do you have any hints and tips for people currently going through this? Please leave a comment below if so! Thanks all x