A little while ago I said that I had two wheelchairs, one powered and one manual. I also have a hospital style bed and a bathroom chair. All of these devices allow me to live my life in a way I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. I am forever grateful to programs like the NDIS and the NSW Governments Enable program, without which there is absolutely no way I would have been able to afford them.
So there’s a process you go through when you look at getting a wheelchair or other type of “Assistive Tech”. It’s called scripting.
Let’s take my powered wheelchair as an example.
Scripting is the process where you and an Occupational Therapist work together to find the best combination of features within an item to meet your particular needs. For instance, when it comes to working out what sort of power chair I’m going to need we need to factor in the following:
- I’m 194cm tall when standing
- I’m overweight regardless of sitting, standing or lying down
- I have a dodgy shoulder (tends to dislocate on its own every now and then)
- I have leg spasms (ranging from urgh thats annoying to full on high kicks)
With the above in mind, and the fact that I would be spending a lot of time in this thing, we came up with a list of requirements.
- It must be able to support my upper back and head. This means that it has to have a tall back and longer headrest than normal.
- As I still get spasms the chair must be able to allow me to lie back to relieve pressure on my lower back
- It must be able to support my weight
- It must have a reasonable range (hey wheelchair users were talking about range anxiety long before Tesla came along)
- It must allow for custom cushions (in order to avoid developing pressure sores)
So using the above criteria I worked with my Occupational Therapist and a supplier to find the best model that suited my needs. We tested a couple of different models before settling on the model that we did, the Permobil M300 HD.
Scripting can be and should be a collaborative process. Your Occupational Therapist will of course have the knowledge to suggest solutions, but at the end of the day, this is something that will be supporting you and your circumstances. For my circumstances I needed something to get me around a house and suburban streets. I have full control of my upper limbs so I didn’t need much modifications (though I did ask for and get a coffee cup holder). However my circumstances are not those of the farmer I met in rehab. He needed something that would allow him to move around the farm so his chair was going to need to be more rugged.