Updated RESNA Position Paper Reflects Progression of Pediatric Power

The recently updated RESNA position paper on power mobility for pediatric clients reflects the ongoing evolution of mobility devices for children.

The new paper’s lead author, Lauren Rosen, PT, MPT, MSMS, ATP/SMS, told Mobility Management that the paper benefited from substantial updating due to the significant changes to this segment of mobility.

“Everything about the [original] paper needed updating,” Rosen said. “Everything in the original paper is still valid and right. All of the original research in there is good, but since that paper came out, there have been a number of publications on powered mobility and intellectual development that didn’t exist when the paper was [first] done.

“That was the hardest part of our task: narrowing things down, because we could have written a 600-page systematic review, quite honestly, with what’s out there. We had to scale it back and come up with what we felt were the main topics that were the most important for everybody.”

Among the changes, Rosen said, has been an increased understanding and acceptance of power mobility devices for young clients.

“I believe there has been much more acceptance,” Rosen said. “Still not enough, but much more acceptance of powered mobility for young children.”

She credits Cole Galloway, Ph.D., FAPTA, from the University of Delaware for much of that new-found acceptance. Galloway created and promoted an early-intervention mobility program called Go Baby Go, which uses modified toy vehicles to introduce very young children to independent power mobility.

“That Go Baby Go program has opened so many people’s eyes because it got mobility to people in a non-threatening, adorable, not-a-wheelchair kind of way,” Rosen said. “I have a Go Baby Go car in my office, and my therapists use it all the time with our patients. It’s an amazing program.”

Admittedly, Go Baby Go vehicles are limited in functionality. The vehicles typically use Power Wheels ride-on toys as power bases, with simple switch systems for driving and padded PVC pipes added for positioning support.

“There’s only so far a Go Baby Go car can take you, figuratively and literally,” Rosen acknowledged. “But it has opened people’s eyes. [A Go Baby Go car is] great when Susie wants to play in her backyard, but she can’t take that to school. So it’s opened people up a little more to looking at What if we got Susie a power chair?

Rosen said the Go Baby Go vehicle in her office – designed as Mater, the big-hearted tow truck from the Disney Pixar Cars franchise – has made parents more willing to consider power mobility for their children.

“I have more parents coming to me and pushing for power for their kids after seeing what they can do when playing in Mater,” Rosen said. “I’m hearing that from other therapists around the country as well. It has not definitively translated to payor sources in all states and in all areas; we’re still having some difficulty with some payor sources saying, ‘Oh, that’s too young.’ But that’s part of the purpose of this position paper, to say, ‘Actually, what you’re asking [as the minimum age for power mobility] is too old. We’re missing important windows, and there’s proof that we’re missing those windows.’”

The success of Go Baby Go even led to a change of title for the newly updated position paper.

“The original name was talking about pediatric power, but we changed it to power mobility devices so it was easier to include some of the research that’s been done with the robots that [Galloway] originally had and with Go Baby Go,” Rosen said. “We’re trying to encompass all of the ways that people are coming up with to make kids mobile.”

“RESNA Position on the Application of Power Mobility Devices for Pediatric Users” was approved on Nov. 2 by RESNA’s board. In addition to Rosen, the paper’s authors are Teresa Plummer, Ph.D., MSOT, OTR/L, ATP, CEAS, CAPS; Andrina Sabet, PT, ATP; Michelle L. Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS; and Roslyn Livingstone, MSc(RS), OT.

To download the paper, click HERE.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

Mobility Management Podcast