Reporter’s Notebook: 2008 ISS

•    Fascinating: David Porter’s study of whether postural supports would improve the performances of children with CP. Porter tested kids’ responses via simple games of matching and identifying pictures. Generally speaking, as the amount of postural support increased, the kids’ response times and mistakes decreased. Most kids preferred the highest level of postural support offered during the study; they said the intensive postural support made it “easier to do the test, easier to do the game, easier to concentrate.” Maybe this will ease parents’ emotional fears that positioning features make a child look too “tied down”?

•    Got a sneak peek at Invacare’s new Crossfire T6A manual chair, due out in June. One of its goals is to accommodate newly injured spinal cord patients with a high-performance chair — to that end, the T6A will have plenty of adjustability, since newly injured SCI clients are still learning what positioning works and feels best for them. Also look for features such as fold-in sides, a fold-down and locking back, and anodized colors for accent pieces, including the forks.

•    Vancouver Winter Paralympic Games coordinators manned a booth in the ISS registration area, and distributed Paralympic pins and decals featuring Sumi, the Paralympic mascot.

•    Next stop, world domination: Well, not really, but the folks at Quantum Rehab are working hard to help their power chair clients master their lives by mastering their environments — that includes not only operating augmentative communication and environmental controls via their chairs, but also operating iPods and electronic toys the same way. Quantum is helping by creating full-featured electronics with enhanced, easy-to-use displays. Also in the booth: The R4000, Quantum’s rehab-caliber rear-wheel-drive chair, for those hard-core clients who simply must have RWD.

•    Jan Furumasu, long-time advocate of independent mobility for very young children, presented results of a five-year study on The Impact of Early Powered Mobility on Young Children’s Play & Psychosocial Skills. The results were positive; children using power chairs were reported to be more cooperative, to interact more with peers and to have higher self-esteem than they had before receiving independent mobility. After hearing Jan’s results, we opined to Altimate Medical’s Nancy Perlich: “How many more studies do funding sources need before they will finally understand the value of early intervention?!?”

•    The Westin Bayshore is a gorgeous property, but we heard troubling stories about lack of accessible rooms. Reportedly, the box spring from at least one of Westin’s famed Heavenly Beds had to be removed because the bed was just too tall to transfer into. It’s an obvious concern this year and into the future, if ISS keeps coming back here…which we hear it is.

•    While walking and chatting with Convaid’s Sue Johnson, we came upon the company’s new early-intervention CuddleBug chair parked at the edge of a Westin gift shop. Until Sue pointed it out, we’d assumed the grape-colored vehicle was a standard stroller. But with a seat depth starting at 5" and a host of positioning features, the CuddleBug prototype was tremendously exciting.

•    Symmetric Designs showed us the Savant headrest system. It can be shaped by hand thanks to a unique steel core and provides three levels of support on the head to control lateral flexion and rotation.

This article originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

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