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NRRTS puts ‘FOCUS’ on pediatrics

NRRTS puts ‘FOCUS’ on pediatrics ‘There’s just a whole cascade of developmental benefits’

Lisa KenyonLUBBOCK, Texas – When it comes to young children and toddlers with mobility limitations, it’s never too early or too late to start using power, says Lisa Kenyon, PT, DPT, PhD, PCS, a contributing author to NRRTS’s newest publication, “FOCUS: Pediatric Power & Early Intervention.” 

Pediatrics has been an area where power has been underutilized, but clinicians like Kenyon are making the case that it can play an important role in their development and independence. 

“A power mobility device can help a child learn about sense of self and tool-use; it can help support socialization and learning about social interactions,” she said. “There’s just a whole cascade of developmental benefits that start when a developing child starts moving and we can offer this similar experience to a child who has mobility limitations and help them to develop more than just their locomotor skills.” 

FOCUS joins an existing NRRTS publication called DIRECTIONS. 

Young children, like adults, need to be matched to the right device, depending on the activity and their functions, says Kenyon. For example, it’s possible to get to the store by doing cartwheels, but it makes much more sense to drive. 

“If we have a child who’s using a walker and it takes their maximum ability to do it—they’re sweating, they’re so slow, they’re not able to play with other children—that's not functional, that’s exercise,” she said. 

But because society tends to view using a wheelchair as a last resort, power mobility devices for toddlers are rarely utilized, says Kenyon. The other barrier is access. 

“From a funding perspective, we tend to limit what children can get, when they’ll get it, and, in many states, you almost have to drive perfectly before you can have your own power wheelchair,” she said. 

One solution could be a shared equipment program, something that exists for standers or bath chairs, says Kenyon. 

“I think there are some outside-the-box ways you could think about it, that maybe we aren’t thinking about in our traditional society,” she said.


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