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Faith – Seeking Movement in Her Wheelchair

Faith – Seeking Movement in Her Wheelchair

Michelle L. Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS


Faith communicates with a switch near her knee. Rocking helps her concentrate.

We all like to move, some of us more than others. Faith loves to move! She is a 9-year-old girl with diagnoses including brain injury, cerebral palsy, seizures and blindness. She loves sensory input, including rocking in her manual wheelchair. Many people with low vision enjoy rocking, often seeking alternative sensory input. Faith rocks even more when she is excited!

So why is it important to allow this rocking? Well, the first reason is for Faith’s sake and the second reason is for the sake of the wheelchair itself.  First, Faith is more alert and calmer when she rocks. If the Seating Dynamics Dynamic Rocker Back interface (DRBi) is locked out (latched), she can quickly become either less responsive or agitated. Second, even though she does not rock with a great deal of force, Faith does rock a great deal of the time. This constant movement can lead to wear and tear of the manual wheelchair frame and eventual breakage. The Dynamic Back provides both movement for Faith and damage protection for her manual wheelchair.

Take a look at the video below. Much of Faith’s rocking is initiated with head movement. Her head rarely contacts the head support, however, and so Dynamic Head Support Hardware is not required. She does not move her legs very often and not with force, and so Dynamic Footrests are also not indicated. You may notice that she is seeking oral sensory stimulation in the video in addition to the vestibular stimulation that rocking is providing. While rocking and chewing, Faith is carefully listening to choices of what she can ‘speak’ though a speech generating device and then making her selection by pressing a switch placed by her right medial knee (see picture above).

It is so easy to underestimate Faith! And yet she was communicating with us using a fairly complex hierarchy of vocabulary choices in a very short amount of time. She is a rock star! But this rock star needs to move in order to be as functional as she can. Keep moving, Faith!

More about Faith: Full Case Study


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