Today, even people with cerebral palsy can throw a pitch in a baseball game. This is thanks to a new, state-of-the-art, $40,000 powered wheelchair. Because of this new equipment, cerebral palsy sufferer Andy Weaver is able to see eye-to-eye witheveryone else at the baseball game. Just a few months ago, Weaver took his first steps in over 10 years, stunning the crowd at a Nazareth Area High School pep rally. So when his independence-giving wheelchair broke, it was quite devastating. Just two months later, news flooded into 69 News that his wheelchair had broken, a viewer donated one. It delighted Andy and gave him back his independence once more.
Gaining mobility is very important for people with cerebral palsy to help them develop cognitively and psychosocially given that almost a third of kids with this condition are non-nomadic. Wheelchairs are able to provide this mobility as well as the opportunity to explore their environment, in turn causing a reduced dependence on their caregivers. In 2008, a study was conducted with 562 children between the ages of 3 to 18 with cerebral palsy to determine which wheelchairs were best for these kids vis-à-vis gaining independence. An assessment was made on how the children used both manual and powered wheelchairs inside and outside and an examination on their performance versus their need for assistance was conducted.
It was found that wheelchairs for mobility indoors were used by 165 of the kids; wheelchairs were used for independent mobility by 61 (32 using manual; 12 powered; 17 both) and wheelchairs navigated by an adult were used by 104 kids. Vis-à-vis outdoor mobility, 228 children in the study used wheelchairs; 66 for independent mobility (with a breakdown of 18 manual; 36 powered and 12 both) and 162 by being pushed. The study found that using a wheelchair increased with age and was most common with those kids with spastic bilateral and dyskinetic subtypes of cerebral palsy.
The study thus concluded that to achieve the highest level of independent mobility, “both manual and powered wheelchairs should be considered at an early age for children with impaired walking ability.”