Rosa is an active 22 year old woman who is paraplegic, and arrived in a wheelchair that was worn out and made her back hurt. She left in a well-fitting wheelchair that allowed her propel herself much more easily and efficiently. She left the clinic, hailed a taxi, transferred into it and disassembled the chair, bringing it in after her. Talk about independence!
Luis is 16 years old and has cerebral palsy. By his mother’s account, he was pretty much unresponsive until he was about 6 years old. After that he became much more active and interested in the world. Today he is a huge flirt with all the young women – and there are plenty of them between the Peruvians and Americans in our clinic! Luis arrived sliding out of a wheelchair with no support. Years of sitting poorly have left him with a significantly curved spine. As a result he could not sit up straight; unless he sat on his tailbone sliding out of the chair his line of sight was the floor and his lap. By the time he left the clinic Luis was even more of a flirt because he was stable as he sat in a tilt-in-space wheelchair and could look around more easily to see the girls!
One of the last children of the day was Adriana, a little girl who lives 10 hours away from Lima. She was referred to Yancana Huasy for a wheelchair because she has osteogenesis imperfecta, sometimes known as brittle bone disease. Her bones break easily; her mother said that each time she has a fracture her walking is more limited and she is afraid that the next one will make it impossible for her to walk. The teacher in her local school has refused to allow her into kindergarten because of the risk of fractures. Rosa entered our clinic in her parents arms, a very sober little 4 year old. Her parents expected her to get a big wheelchair that she would not be able to push, but as we talked they agreed that a chair she could move herself would be much better than one that others would always have to push. They looked amazed when a spiffy little red chair sized for a little child was rolled out! Rosa took to it right away. Three hours later it was customized to fit her and she rolled away under her own power with a smile on her face.