How to Help Children Use a Wheelchair

February 11, 2021
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Your child is your world. You want to do everything to make their life as happy as possible. So if they’ve been diagnosed with a debilitating condition — or if they’ve been involved in an accident — and now require a wheelchair, you may be wondering what can you do to help them. What can you do to give them a sense of independence? How do you manage difficulties that may arise? And, is there anything you should be aware of?

5 Ways to Support Children Who Require a Wheelchair

1. Modify Your Home

There are many things that need to be taken into account when making your home comfortable for a child in a wheelchair. If your home’s main entrance has steps, install a ramp. If your home has two levels, move your child’s bedroom downstairs. Remodel your bathroom to make it easier for your child to get in and out of the shower — and install a bench inside the shower. Speak with your child’s pediatrician to determine what additional modifications they suggest. Other common house modifications should include:

  • Installing bars around the shower and the toilet
  • Removing rugs and carpeting
  • Lowering doorknobs
  • Arranging furniture in a way that makes it easier to maneuver a wheelchair

2. Talk With Your Family, Child’s Teachers, and Friends

Your child will already feel different due to needing a wheelchair. However, there are things people in your circle can do to make your child feel included. Let everyone know that you want your child included in the same activities as the other children — such as cousins, friends, and classmates — to the extent possible. For example, watching movies downstairs, playing board games or video games, doing arts and crafts, going on a treasure hunt, playing Simon says, basketball, and/or exercising. Make sure everyone keeps in mind that modifications may need to be made beforehand, so that your child doesn’t feel left out.

3. Give Your Child Options

If your child is too young or doesn’t have the cognitive abilities to tell you what they want to do, plan accordingly. But, if your child can communicate with you and has clear interests, let them choose how they want to spend their day. If they like to watch sports, find a game on tv or introduce them to adaptive sports — such as wheelchair basketball, hand cycling, kayaking, or wheelchair tennis. If they are more creative, enroll them in music, writing, or art lessons. Doing so will allow them to have as normal a childhood as possible — and to enjoy themselves in the process. It also provides them with opportunities to excel at something they love.

4. Provide Them With Adaptive Materials

Which tools your child needs depends on their circumstances. They may include assistive technology, art supplies, car seats, toys, furniture, bath support, lifts, or anything else their pediatrician or physical/occupational therapists may recommend. This will allow them greater mobility and help them perform routine tasks. They are great tools for both recreational and educational purposes, and give your child a better sense of control.

5. Encourage Independence

This one will depend on your child’s specific circumstances. But, if possible, find ways to teach your child to do things on their own. This includes getting dressed, preparing meals, and getting around the house. If they need help, encourage them to ask for it. But if they don’t, let them try to do things. This gives them a sense of normalcy and accomplishment, and sets them up for an easier life as they grow up. By the same token, inform your family and friends not to jump up from their chair to do things for your child unless they specifically ask for help.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of skilled professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.