Written by Harrison Pierce and his family with support from Advanced Occupational Therapist, Kelsie Davis.
Hi I’m Harrison. I am 13 years old and I’ve just got a new wheelchair. It’s super comfy, helps me sit up straight and is a smooth ride. I love my new wheels.
It took a long time for the first assessment. We needed to get funding, wait for the seat to be made and for the chair to come all the way from Germany before we could bring it home. I had to be very patient. I got lots of pokes and prodding from my therapy team but it is all worth it now.
First of all they had to do an assessment of me to determine what I needed. My therapists chatted to my Mum and Dad, reviewed an x-ray with Princess Margaret Hospital and did a physical assessment of me – this is called the DSC Seating Assessment; it took a long time.
My family and therapy team know me very well, so they knew that in my new chair I needed to sit up a bit straighter. I tend to lean towards my right as I have scoliosis, and I am working very hard to make sure it doesn’t get any worse. One way I do this is through my bed set-up. It helps me stay nice and straight at night, and it’s my favourite colour – red!
Pictured: Harrison’s back, an x-ray showing his scoliosis, and his specialised bedding.
Because of how I sit, I needed a seat made especially for me. The seat is called an insert. The technology used to make this is pretty cool. I started by sitting in something similar to a beanbag. Then my therapists get me sitting in the best position and turn on a machine which sucks the air out from the bean bag. This leaves a mould of where I sit. It took a few attempts, but we got it just right.
Special sticky dots then get stuck onto the mould so that it can be scanned into a computer program. My Dad really enjoyed seeing the technology that was used to make my insert. It’s pretty fascinating when it gets scanned into the 3D image and my mould then appears on the screen. From here, a big magic machine and a very handy man cut it out of the foam to make my insert.
Pictured: Harrison having the insert moulded to his body, mould mapping and 3D image.
After some more fiddling around, and lots of chats between my Mum and the therapists, the wheelchair was ready for me to take home to trial. It felt a bit strange at first and took a while to get used to, but it is perfect!
There was one very important step left though. My Mum took the chair back to the workshop where the upholsterer made a nice cover for my insert.
Pictured: Harrison in his new wheelchair.
Learn more about how Therapy Focus can support people with disabilities to access equipment and assistive technology.