Back to School Wheelchair Accessories & Technology Tips

Back to School Wheelchair Accessories & Technology Tips

Growing up in Virginia, Labor Day weekend was a time filled with mixed emotions, but thanks to the "Kings Dominion Law" the Tuesday after Labor Day marked the first day of school (Got to love Virginia's theme park-related legislation). I remember the thrill of finding the perfect Trapper Keeper® (Side note: this 80's classic is back!) while school supply shopping with my parents and the uneasy feeling on the first day as I walked in my classroom not sure of who would be assigned to sit next to me for the next nine months of school.

In honor of this exciting time of year, I decided this would be the perfect time to discuss a few wheelchair technology tips related to school.

Tray Debate

Wheelchair Upper Extremity Support Surfaces, more commonly referred to as lap trays or simply trays are intended to assist the individual with maintaining ideal posture while seated in his/her wheelchair. Many clients benefit from having a stable surface such as a tray to assist with supporting his/her upper extremities and/or trunk stabilization. It is important to note that the majority of trays are not designed for or intended to be utilized as a student's desk.

During a training session with some colleagues, the debate between clear verses a solid color tray came up. When a member of the group asked my opinion I responded by saying "Well, it depends." The benefits of a clear tray include: the ability for the user and/or caregiver to be able to see the user's entire body while propelling the wheelchair; the option to tape items such as the user's personal information and communication symbols under the tray as opposed to attaching them on the top of tray, to ease clean-up and maintenance of the information; and the idea of that a clear tray has a cleaner look. However, a user with visual impairments or intellectual disabilities may find the fact that he/she can see through a clear tray distracting or over stimulating. One option for users that need to have items such as communication symbols taped onto his/her solid color tray, is to tape the laminated symbols to the top of the tray and then cover the entire surface with clear shelf liner, such as Contact Paper. Be sure to utilize shelf liner that is removable and washable. The answer here is to understand the needs of user first.

The Power of Merging Devices

Many of the clients I have worked with over the years who use a power wheelchair also have utilized additional pieces of technology such as a communication device, laptop, or tablet. The good news is with the advances in technology, there are ways to link wheelchairs to devices. The benefit to linking devices is that it decreases the amount of energy and/or access points an individual needs to control both items. Originally, the only options were hard wired; however, in recent years utilizing Bluetooth® technology has become more popular. If you have a client that drives a power wheelchair and needs access to a tech device while in his/her wheelchair, I encourage you to reach out to your local manufacturer's representative or customer service to identify a solution.

Accessorize It!

Earlier in this post I mentioned that wheelchair trays are not intended to serve as a student's desk. One of the primary reasons I made that statement is because I have seen first hand what happens when an item such as a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or communication devices tumbles from a tray. In order to ensure the safety of the user, equipment, and toes of others around the user it is important that equipment is mounted properly. There are a variety of mounts on the market, so be sure to talk with your local wheelchair manufacturer's representative and/or the communication device company representative.

Quickie Power Accessories

Another cool back-to-school accessory to be aware of is the Self Leveling Cup Holder. Check out this one recently added to list of accessories from Sunrise Medical!

Watch a video about the Mobile Phone, Tablet, and Cup Holder Mounts

Teachers, parents, and therapists are some of the most creative people I know! Do you have any cool tips or ideas to share? Please comment below. Also, visit our Pinterest page for more great back to school resources.

Thank you for reading our blog! We love hearing from you, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Always remember at the end of the day, your client is your number one priority!
- Angie

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are intended to be utilized as a general resource for clinicians and suppliers to then use clinical reasoning skills to determine optimal seating and mobility solutions for individual clients. Steve and Angie are unable to answer questions from members of the general public including caregivers and end users. Members of the general public should direct specific questions to their own clinicians, medical, suppliers, or other health care professionals.

Posted by: Date: 8/29/2014 4:05:42 PM
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