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Keeping Children on the Move at the Pediatric Seating and Mobility Clinic

As technology improves, parents have more options for keeping children with motor, sensory or cognitive impairments moving safely and comfortably. At the Outpatient Pediatric Seating and Mobility Clinic at TIRR Memorial Hermann, therapists understand the importance of functional mobility and proper positioning in the child’s development, and work with families to meet their children’s needs, regardless of how complex they are.

In addition to manual and power wheelchair evaluations, occupational therapist and clinical coordinator of the seating clinic Myra Vasquez-Romero, OTR, ATP, assesses children for car seats and custom-molded seating systems. “Positioning is especially important for children with postural deformities,” she says. “When off-the-shelf seats won’t work for a child, we make a recommendation for custom-molded seating systems designed specifically to meet the child’s postural and positioning needs.”

Vasquez-Romero and other seating therapists at the Outpatient Pediatric Seating and Mobility Clinic work with children with a variety of diagnoses. “During the wheelchair selection process, we evaluate their ability to use standard drive controls and if it is determined that the standard method does not work, then we look at alternative drive controls,” she says. “Some families are very hesitant and unaware of how well children can maneuver in a mobility device. We pride ourselves on our ability to find either the right custom manual wheelchair or power wheelchair with an alternative switch, joystick or head control to ensure that the child can get around their school and community, as well as participate in family activities with increased independence. We’ve had great success with the use of fiber-optic controls that children can use, for example, with the tip of their index finger or other body parts, as well as alternative joysticks that require only a few grams of pressure.”

Services offered through the clinic also include pressure mapping, a tool that assists therapists in determining a functional seating system for the client, and education on the correct technique for weight-shifting; SmartWheel® assessment to determine the optimal configuration for custom manual wheelchairs, taking into consideration center of gravity, wheel placement and the patient’s overall push stroke; and final fitting and delivery in which the seating therapist, the rehabilitation team and the patient and family are present to ensure that any needed adjustments are made for their new mobility device.”

“We evaluate our clients’ present needs carefully with an eye to the future to ensure that we meet the requirements of our funding sources,” Vasquez-Romero says. “To get started we need a physician referral, and it’s helpful to have clinical notes as well. The more we know about our patient, the better prepared we can be for the clinic visit.”

The Pediatric Seating and Mobility Clinic is located at TIRR Memorial Hermann Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation at the Kirby Glen Center at 2455 South Braeswood in Houston. For more information, call 1 (800) 44-REHAB (73422) (1-800-447-3422) toll free or (713) 797-5942 .