Lia is 3 years old and just received her first wheelchair yesterday. The process began months ago when her mother, Doris, took the first step and requested a wheelchair for her daughter at Yancana Huasy.
Lia was seen by an occupational therapist who took measurements, assessed her posture and obtained information about her developmental and medical history. This evaluation was sent to us in the United States to help us select a good wheelchair for Lia. Doris also agreed to attend required classes. There she learned about basic wheelchair seating, parts, and care, and night-time therapeutic positioning. Sleeping in a well-aligned position at night can protect Lia from secondary complications like dislocated joints and scoliosis as she grows bigger. This can often be done with simple household materials.
Finally the big day arrived! Doris met with other parents of kids getting wheelchairs and a psychologist, to discuss emotions and adjustments to life with disabilities. She and Lia together with three other families then proceeded to mat tables arranged for them with materials to provide postural support. Now came a bit of a test – everyone was asked to position their children using principles they had learned in the night positioning workshop. While everyone had attended a class, most had not yet had individual tutoring and this was their chance. Elizabeth, the occupational therapist who taught the workshop, went from mat to mat, checking positioning, tweaking and giving advice. If kids needed a specially carved foam leg pillow to support their lower limbs she created it for them during the day.
At last Lia and Doris could see the wheelchair that traveled from the United States to Peru with Lia’s name on it – only she had grown a lot! It was too small and not the best style for her. It is hard to get it right from a long distance! Not to worry, there are always extras so we found something just right – a Hope Haven Kid Chair that provides plenty of postural support and gives the option for Lia to begin learning about mobility by reaching and moving the wheels.
After several more measurements and re-fittings Lia’s wheelchair was done! She loved the tray on which she can now play with toys. Doris reviewed and signed paperwork with Elizabeth; a contract stating that she will care for the wheelchair, use 24 hour posture management with Lia, and return every 6 months for a follow-up appointment. In fact she left with the first appointment already scheduled.
Time to go home – but how to transport the wheelchair? Lia and Doris rode off to their home with the beautiful new wheelchair tied safely on the back of a mototaxi. A fun end to a big day for a 3 year old!