‘So comfortable he fell asleep’
MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas – The story of Jairo Torres, a 13-year-old boy who cried every time he was put in his wheelchair, finally has a happy ending.
Torres, who has athetoid cerebral palsy, was never comfortable in a “normal” wheelchair because he’s most comfortable in a prone position. He was so uncomfortable in a wheelchair, in fact, that he spent most of his time at school on his stomach on a beanbag.
“You can take Jairo and force him into a normal sitting position, but you have to do it slowly, and he screams in pain the entire time,” said Jeremy Redfearn at ATP at Trucare Medical, a full-line HME provider with a soft spot for complex rehab.
After years of trying various “normal” wheelchairs, Redfearn teamed up with Barbara Rule, a physical therapist, Key Mobility and Matrix Seating USA to come up with a customized solution that would allow Torres to lie in a prone position, with his feet at the push handles and his head at the front.
It has made all the difference in the world for the junior high schooler.
“The first time he was in it, he was so comfortable he fell asleep,” Redfearn said.
Indeed, school is now a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved, including Torres’ bus driver and teachers.
“Every morning the bus driver would call the teacher five minutes before arriving to let her know they were on their way, so she could help him with Jairo, and there would be crying in the background,” said Sharon Ortega, manager at Trucare Medical. “The first day Jairo used the new wheelchair, the teacher didn’t get a phone call. The bus driver just rolled him into the classroom and everyone was happy.”
Redfearn says he finally feels like he did his job.
“For years, everything I tried was not working and he was constantly in pain,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t do my job—you take it personally. So the sense of satisfaction of seeing him smile in this wheelchair can’t be explained. It’s probably the biggest perk of my job.”