When your child is ready for their first wheelchair, be prepared for a lengthy process. Make sure you have some other form of mobility for your child in the meantime. It could take up to 6 months from the start of the process to getting the chair—sometimes even longer.
Start with your child’s physical therapist (PT). They will contact the doctor for a prescription and then the vendor who will supply the chair.
Once the physical therapist gets the prescription and you pick a vendor, a wheelchair evaluation will be scheduled. This can be done at your home or the physical therapist’s office. The vendor, PT, you, and your child will meet to fit your child to a wheelchair that best meets their needs.
You will find there are a number of decisions to make regarding the fit of the wheelchair for your child. There are self-propelled chairs, power wheelchairs, sports wheelchairs, and tilt-n-space chairs. There are different types of seat cushions, backrests, side wing supports, head supports, and harnesses. There are lots of options to get the right chair for your child.
Your child will be measured. They will try out different chairs to find what is best for their posture and abilities. After everything is sized and picked out, the waiting will begin.
All the information will be sent to your child’s insurance company, which usually takes 3-6 months to receive approval. Also, most insurance companies have a policy on how long the chair should last until they will cover another one. My child’s insurance is five years. That makes it hard with a growing child, but there are adjustable chairs that will grow with your child.
It was well worth the wait for my child. Her chair is so comfortable she can even sleep in it!
Here is some great information on home modification and accessibility.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.