Children with cerebral palsy risk adopting incorrect postures, which may develop into contractures (restricted movement of the joints). Over time, these may lead to a reduction in the child's functions and possibly even loss of the ability to walk. In the long term, people with cerebral palsy are at risk of losing mobility as a result of decreased muscle strength, poor balance when walking and standing, fatigue and chronic pain. In addition to this physical handicap, people with cerebral palsy can have problems with speech, vision and hearing, and some have ADHD.
Physical training and therapy is important in order to stave off and reduce the physical problems that accompany cerebral palsy. It is equally important to ensure that the child is provided with aids that are appropriate for their age and changing functional ability at any one point in time.
VELA has several types of 'active' chairs and electric wheelchairs that are specifically designed to make life easier for the child, his or her parents and any carers.
If the child has a slight functional impairment, such as reduced balance or difficulty walking, a customised chair can facilitate everyday activities:
Increased mobility: The child can 'walk' the chair forward, and thereby move around without assistance. There is plenty of room for the feet between the large, smooth-running wheels. A push bar installed at the back of the chair enables a good working position for the child's helpers when pushing the chair, and can also be used by the child as support and when practising walking.
Greater safety and peace of mind: Children with poor standing balance benefit from extra safety and peace of mind when the chair's central brake is activated. This ensures that the chair remains completely stationary when the child stands up and sits down. The armrests also provide safety and peace of mind: the child can use them to lower him- or herself calmly into the chair and will feel securely encompassed when undertaking activities.
Easier operation: For a child with reduced strength or cerebral palsy, special easy-to-operate handles and extension handles can be fitted to the chair. Electric adjustment of the seat height and operation of the central brake are simple, improving the working environment for the child's helpers.
Improved sitting posture: The child can adopt a comfortable and ergonomically correct sitting posture, which minimises stress on his or her joints. The seat and back can be replaced and adjusted as the child grows and his or her needs change. In addition, children who have difficulty maintaining their upper body in an upright position can have adjustable lateral supports installed, which promote a good, stable sitting posture.
More comfort and support: The child benefits from good support and comfort when using the chair over extended periods through a choice of extra padding on the seat, backrest and armrests with softer foam, or through various options for seat cushions adapted to the child's size and needs.