Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wheelchair Seating Clinic

The seating specialist, vendor, and I all seem to be in agreement about what I need in a power chair ranging from tilt-in-space and recline to arm rest needs and specific dimensions and cushioning that will help. And the vendor thinks no question that it's medical necessity to have the tilt to be functional (for me to be functional, not the chair). The dimensions they came up with are exactly the dimensions I'd have specified if I ordered equipment myself on my own without help--I need a deeper cushion than most would choose for support, but I hadn't even mentioned that to them. So really, the best case scenario. We found out that my right femur is half an inch shorter than the left (I'm presuming because of the fracture with the growth plate)--but I sit in a way that makes the left leg seem a half inch longer--an inch difference from where I'd normally sit because of pelvic rotation. Plus there's the scoliosis in the low spine. I think I'd find it difficult to find comfortable seating even if I didn't have arthritis there.

Now the question is which chair would work best. I will try a few out at the vendors' soon. The whole process can take 3-6 months because of insurance wrangling (and who knows what would happen if I change insurance--though the same vendor is used for a number of insurance companies).

It looks like an air cushion may work best--this surprised me completely. We also discussed/tried other kinds of cushions. There should be some kind of elevating leg rest, but we're not sure if we can get that powered--I forgot to mention one issue with that since my scooter has an elevated platform.

So we're looking at a bunch of options from Invacare, Pride, and maybe Permobil. I am very thankful that I will get to try some of these out in person since there is just no substitute for doing that--that was certainly true of the scooters. Wish me luck--one thing I don't like about some is that they're not quite streamlined enough in terms of design, though I think the models we'd probably go with are more so, like the Permobils. As a younger female, design/aesthetics are still important to me, though function and comfort comes first.

We talked about the manual with power assist--the seating expert does not think that's a good idea. Really, I could use the tilt-in-space option/high back with a power chair a lot. I'll think about it, but I think she's right. If I were to have more degeneration over the next five years (not unlikely!) and had to have the continuing support, I would not be able to get a more costly power wheelchair (insurance only covers one every five years). Basically, I think of something like that as more of a luxury since I wouldn't have the sitting tolerance I would in a power chair--I'd have to transfer out more. While eventually when life is normal I'd like an inexpensive used but good manual as a backup, that's just not the priority right now. I am not thrilled with the headrest/very high back because I think it makes me look more disabled than I am, but functionally with the tilt in space it would keep me from straining neck/spine trying to hold my head up while tilted--even the slight tilt on my scooter can cause me upper back pain, though it's a wonderful feature to have and does relieve pain. I think I will have so much more maneuverability that I will be able to do far more for myself and will have less pain while out if properly cushioned.

I am in terrible pain now after being there this morning and back lying down--they get to see me at a relatively good point, early in the morning. It's just a huge relief that we seemed to be in such accord--and they're really nice people.

We do have a good attorney who's helping us with some of the other financial/house refinance or not issues. Lots to do, still hoping that contract comes through for my spouse quickly.


x said...

Good luck! I'm keeping you and your family in my thoughts

FridaWrites said...

Thank you, Danine--hope to be back in touch soon.