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Warming Up To The Power Chair

September 30, 2009 by Bill Strong
On Monday, we had very exciting "first" -- and much sooner than we anticipated. Gwendolyn got to see and try a Permobil K300 power chair. And it was hot pink!

Our experience with new things, especially big new things for Gwendolyn, is that she needs a warm-up period to get used to the idea and, after looking at it and talking about it, to make the decision on her own that this is something she wants to do. That was definitely the case for the power chair demo. We first talked to her about it and she seemed excited, but when we picked her up to try, she wasn't so sure. So she sat in it on Mommy's lap. And that was okay.

Then, she gave it a try by herself, but had to sit pretty upright and she was not very happy at all. So, we took her out and talked to her about the chair and let her touch it and look at it and process the whole thing. One of our physical therapists had the great idea of putting "Dolly", a large stuffed doll, in the power chair and that seemed to help (we used "Dolly" successfully when Gwendolyn was warming up to the stander and it worked wonders). Before we left, we asked her if she'd like to try one more time and although she was hesitant, we could see she was willing. So, all by herself, Gwendolyn sat in the chair one more time and she did much better.We know this is going to be a process on many fronts -- from the logistics of getting the set-up right (no small task at all), to making sure Gwendolyn is comfortable with the whole situation, to teaching her how to use it, to navigating the labyrinth of how to get something like this paid for, to ordering, to figuring out accessibility issues with our van and our house, etc. But, we are so proud of our little girl's brave first step and we can't wait for her to give it another shot at our next appointment in a few weeks. We know that Gwendolyn will love the independence and freedom and excitement that it will provide her and we feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to provide her with it. It's going to be so much fun for her and it's going to be so much fun for us to watch her!

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