Giving kids the tools they need to access their abilities in the classroom can make the difference between success and failure academically and socially. This is especially true for kids with positioning needs due to severe physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, developmental delay, or acquired injuries.
For these children, improved positioning translates into improved classroom performance.
Take Felicitas, for example. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one and currently attends an integrated special education daycare center, where she works with therapists, teachers, and social workers on developing her cognitive, social, and physical abilities. Her left side is stable, but she does not use her right side unless she is encouraged to do so. While she can crawl commando-style, she has little functional use of her arms. The way she moves on the floor coupled with her reduced hand function restricts her ability to communicate and develop social interaction skills.
Felicitas began using the Leckey Everyday Activity Seat in the classroom following a three-week assessment. The seating system was designed specifically for children who require pelvic stability.
The height adjustability of the hi-low base allows Felicitas to interact with her teachers and friends more easily. The height adjustable lumbar support, contoured seat cushion and four-point positioning belt provides her with excellent pelvic and trunk stability. She can then concentrate on using her arms and hands more effectively, which helps her to participate in group activities.
As an added bonus, Felicitas’ school therapist says that the tool-free adjustment and four swivel castors means the Everyday Activity Seat is easily adaptable for multiple care givers and is maneuverable in tight close places.
Innovative Clinically Relevant Products Designed for Work and Play
Throughout its 35-year history, Leckey has designed and developed clinically focused postural support products for children with special needs.
“We offer products that children can effectively work with and play in,” says Ian Hendry, International Sales Director for Leckey. “Our mission is to improve the quality of life for every child with a physical disability – A life where each child is included and can access their full potential.”
In order to understand the therapeutic challenges its products need to address, Leckey’s Product Development Team is in constant communication with therapists and families around the world.
Today, many of Leckey’s products are developed around the 24-hour positioning concept, the idea that postural support throughout the day and night helps to support the health and well-being of people who have difficulty changing positions easily and frequently.1 “We focus around proximal pelvic support and trunk positioning, which allows us to deliver a much better solution for kids,” Hendry explains.
Maintaining regular communication with a global network of families and therapists also helps the company meet individual market preferences. The Everyday Activity Seat, for example, was updated two years ago to offer wipe-clean vinyl covers in addition to the microfiber covers due to the United States’ high standards for disinfecting surfaces.
Perhaps one of the most unique benefits of having such a deep knowledge base is that it has allowed Leckey and its partners to develop out-of-the-box customizable solutions to address complex asymmetries, such as those presented by Miles, a seven-year old boy from Vancouver, Canada.
Miles has spinal muscular atrophy and is progressively losing muscle strength in his core and lower-limb muscles. He has developed lordosis, a crouched posture, and contractures in his hips and knees. He had been using a custom-made, power, sit-to-stand wheelchair but was having so much difficulty standing comfortably in it that he would protest whenever he had to stand.
Miles’ father began searching for a solution that would increase his son’s comfort while standing, provide him with increased opportunities for social and peer interaction, and enable him to participate in a classroom environment. He saw the Mygo Stander at the International Seating Symposium in Vancouver and asked if it would be an appropriate solution for his son.
The Mygo Stander — a 3-in-1 prone, supine, and upright stander for children between the ages of four and 14 with moderate to complex positioning needs — is a great solution for kids with range of motion limitations in their hips and knees.
Miles tested the Mygo Stander in school for about a month. It was set up in the supine configuration with the posterior support and pommel. Although this accessory is typically used in the prone configuration, it worked best for Miles because of his tendency to crouch. Miles also benefitted from having the support on which to lean his arms.
The knee cup, footplate adjust like a pendulum and were moved forward 20 degrees from the pelvic pad to honor his ROM limitations, and split knee straps were placed perfectly to offload his patella while still providing anterior support.
Miles has been using the Mygo Stander to maintain his muscle length and strength since 2012. He now looks forward to standing and can tolerate it for 15–20 minutes at a time. In addition to making it easier and more comfortable for Miles to participate in classroom activities, the Mygo Stander has made it easier for his teachers and therapists to interact with him.
Mobility, Ability, Participation
Whether they are in preschool or are turning into young adults, Hendry says that Leckey strives to develop products that will give kids the best opportunities for mobility, ability, and participation. “Mobility doesn’t mean a wheelchair specifically,” he says. “It means being mobile with the rest of the class, so if the kids need to get down to floor level and play, the product has to be able to get them to floor level so they can interact with their peers.”
Ability, he explains, is about finding solutions that enable kids to access their abilities to the maximum extent possible. “Ability is about providing the best postural support to allow kids to get the most out of what is most often limited physical ability. So if we need to stabilize the pelvis and one of their hands to allow them to use the other hand to access a switch to communicate, that’s giving them the best opportunity to access their ability.”
Perhaps the most important thing for kids, particularly in a school setting, is participation. “Participation is about fun. It’s about play. It’s about getting kids involved and not isolated in any setting.”
There have been a lot of advancements in seating and positioning technology to help kids with special needs be successful in the classroom, and Hendry encourages therapists to stay abreast of the latest developments. The best way to do that, he says, is to reach out to product manufacturers. “Therapeutic practices and products are constantly evolving,” Hendry says. “Over the last 35 years, the whole sector has matured. As a manufacturer working closely with patients, clinicians and care givers, we can find a solution.”
Based in Northern Ireland, Leckey designs and develops clinically focused postural support products and partners with Ottobock to deliver its products to customers in in North America and many European countries. For more information, visit www.leckey.com or www.ottobockus.com.
What is 24 hour postural care? (2016, January 17). Retrieved March 17, 2017, from posture24-7.org