The impact of technology on communication and mobility cannot be underestimated. Doors have been opened that ten years ago would have remained closed. I’ve touched upon the use of the GoTalk devices in our school in an earlier blog; today, I thought I would explore the impact of technology on mobility.
Movement is a freedom that many people take for granted. Yet, in our school we have over 30 children who have a physical disability in addition to other developmental challenges. For them, movement is encouraged though the use of gait trainers, a device that is used in the classroom and in therapy and that supports walking. Prone standers offer standing and weight-bearing opportunities for children that are not able to take steps. The benefits of devices such as this include maintenance of bone density, improved organ function, joint alignment, and increased socialization.
We have come a long way since the earliest modern-day wheelchair, invented for King Phillip II of Spain in 1595! The earliest found image of a wheelchair is from the 6th century, carved in stone on a Chinese sarcophagus. Today, wheelchairs are individualized by the student. They can have specialized head rests, lateral support, backs, trays, etc. Some are electric, and can be powered through the use of a joystick. Typically they are used for around 3 years.
I’d like to share with you the story of one of our students. Enji arrived in Erie two years ago from Iraq. She had been in a refugee camp in Turkey for two years. Enji, who has cerebral palsy, was carried into our school by her mother on the first day. She did not have a wheelchair, she had never been to school, and she did not speak English. Through working with our team, Enji now has a specialized wheelchair, gait trainer, and stander. She receives speech, PT, and OT every week, and she has an iPad. And yes, she speaks English today!
At the BNI, we are committed to developing the most innovative, creative ways to make every child and family’s dream come true… It continues to amaze me how great the impact of technology has been on meeting this goal!