I hesitate in writing this piece. When you Google wheelchair or anything about wheelchairs you get so many posts, so many strong opinions about how a wheelchair is giving up on walking. You find people recommending stroller to those whose child is getting to heavy. However the replies do not seem to be from those who have experienced this situation. Who are these people saying using a wheelchair is giving up on walking? Where to they get their information? I can’t seem to find any studies. There has to be research on this topic. Has anyone found research on the negative or positive outcomes of early wheelchair use when the child is still ambulatory? Does that child all of the sudden stop walking because he or she has a wheelchair? This is such an emotional topic. I’ll tell Mel’s first wheelchair story a little later.
Personal history is important here. I am coming from the perspective of a mom with a child who has an injury at L1, L2. How much of this is just me wanting my child to be ok? Just wanting to make sure I made the correct choices. Just wanting to back up my past decisions.
I recall a study; however, I cannot find the study. It’s a study from college students, probably psychology students. If someone can find that study or any study like it, Please let me know as this concept interests me.
In the study, people were shown videos of people walking with different gait patterns and the same person in wheelchair. All were moving down a sidewalk. The people were to rate the cognitive level of the person moving across the street. The data indicated, people in wheelchairs were viewed as having higher cognition than those that walked with different gait patterns.
I am not implying walking is bad. The ability to at least put some weight on ones legs is a very important skill. This skill, in my mind, makes life so much easier. From the kids I see at school, to the kids at disability functions. This ability to hold ones weight on ones feet, appears to matter. It seems to make life a little easier. Mel is not able to use her legs at all.
Can you older guys tell me what your thoughts are? The ones of you who can transfer just a little, who can take at least some weight. How about those who have walked and then started using a chair? Does anyone recall the years of therapy to learn to walk or to improve walking and then the transition to wheelchair use?
What I can find:
- Benefits of Early Mobility with an Emphasis on Gait Training http://www.rifton.com/adaptive-mobility-blog/benefits-of-early-mobility-with-an-emphasis-on-gait-training/
- The Effect of Walking with an Assistive Device and Using a Wheelchair on School Performance in Students with Myelomeningocele. http://www.physther.net/content/71/8/570.short
- Mobility http://www.ifglobal.org/en/spina-bifida/living-with-spina-bifida/mobility
I’ll post more studies if I find them. Feel free to comment with studies you have come across. Or your personal experience with walking vs wheelchair usage.