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Tips for Choosing a Stroller for a Kid with Special Needs

Choosing a special stroller for a kid with special needs can be a daunting task. As a concerned parent, if you are confused by the number of choices in the market, then take a look at this Buzzle article that provides some simple tips to help you decide.
Tip to choose a stroller for a special needs child
Quick Tip
If you intend to insure an adaptive stroller, then make sure you describe the stroller as a wheelchair or medical mobility device in all correspondence with the insurance company. Health insurance policies do not cover "strollers".
Finding the right equipment for a child with special needs is important to make his/her life easier. Thankfully, there are many companies that manufacture some excellent mobility aids for children and teenagers with special needs. These lightweight and compact devices, also known as adaptive wheelchairs or pediatric strollers, are designed to offer maximum comfort and durability.

Most variants provide an array of positioning options and support to help the child settle into the most comfortable position. They provide the ideal transportation solution due to their special design, and can be customized with options and accessories to accommodate each child's physical needs. Some children switch to these strollers once they are three to four-years-old and no longer fit into a regular stroller. With the wide variety of options available, finding the best one can be an overwhelming task. We, at Buzzle, have put together certain tips that will help you make an informed decision.

Must be Light and Compact

The stroller should have a light frame, and should fold-up easily, making it easier to carry and store the stroller. This reduces the strain on the caregivers, and allows them to wheel the stroller around for longer periods. When buying a stroller, always check whether it is easy to fold and maneuver. If you have to struggle to fold up the stroller and put it away, then it can be extremely frustrating for a parent or caregiver. A good stroller should be easy to set up and dismantle.

Check Maximum Weight Capacity

It is important to find a stroller that can accommodate a child comfortably. There are certain critical points to consider when choosing the right special needs stroller. These include the child's weight in pounds or kilograms, which corresponds to the maximum weight capacity of the stroller, the thigh depth, which equals the seat depth of the stroller, and the hip width, which equals to the seat width. You also need to consider the buttocks to head height and the foot to knee height of the child in order to find the seat height and the footrest to seat height. An appropriate stroller should accommodate all these measurements of the special child.

Must Provide Extra Support

The stroller should offer extra support to help the child maintain a sitting posture. Most strollers have adjustable seat and back angle and 30ยบ fixed tilt to support the upper body posture for kids with limited upper body strength or trunk stability. Some adaptive strollers have footrests that swing away, and whose height can be adjusted for easy access. Of course, you can always add accessories that provide head, trunk, pelvis, and feet support.

Check Safety Features

A pelvic belt and five point "H" harness are some of the common safety features that keep the child safe and properly positioned in the seat. Some models have anti-tippers for added safety. Look for features like foot-operated rear childproof brakes for safety, a wide base, and front swivel wheels for easy maneuverability.

Check Add-on Options and Extra Features

There are many strollers that have special positioning accessories that enhance good posture, aid respiration, improve digestion, and maximize comfort for the child. These detachable accessories are optional, and according to the needs of the child, you can add them to the stroller. Some common optional accessories include headwings that provide head support, torso vests and other trunk support options to keep the child in a comfortable sitting position, and foot positioners that keep the feet in position when there is lack of leg control. Some have adjustable canopies to protect the child from the sun, and storage baskets or trays to keep essentials. Some strollers have adjustable handles to help maintain proper standing posture while pushing the stroller. They also have growth features that enable you to customize the stroller to accommodate a growing child. Before buying, do check if the stroller is compatible with the accessories you need.

Some common optional accessories with adaptive strollers include:
  • Padded hip belt
  • Bus tie-downs
  • Chest harness support
  • Frame padding
  • Foot buckles and straps
  • Trunk support, Lateral head support, and pillows
  • Medical necessities bag
  • Sun/rain canopy
  • Oxygen tank holder
  • Ankle huggers
  • Wrist tether strap

Where to Use

An important point to consider is the intended use of the stroller. If you want too use it for a trip to the doctor, or a grocery store, then a stroller-style pushchair should work just fine. For a trip to the playground, or walks through the local nature trail, you will need special strollers that have large wheels for easier pushing, and better suspension for a smoother ride. Also, there are special strollers with tie-down systems that facilitate travel in buses and vans.

Other Things to Consider

Talk to your doctor or therapist about any special restrictions or requirements.
Check whether the durable medical equipment (DME) benefit can be availed under your insurance plan. When making an insurance claim, provide as many medical documents as possible, stating your child's condition or disability, and how it impacts his/her mobility.
Do try out different models before choosing the one that you and the child both like.

Some good special needs strollers are:

Special Tomato EIO Push Chair
Maclaren Major Elite Special Needs Stroller
Otto Bock KIWI Pediatric Wheelchair
Thomashilfen tRide Stroller
Convaid Cruiser Transit Ready CXT
Axiom Improv Special Needs Push Chair

You can find these strollers in stores or you can order them online from stores such as adaptivemall or especialneeds. Most of the special needs strollers and wheelchairs are very expensive, costing anywhere $1,500 to $3,000. Whether you are planning to buy it or get insurance to cover for it, it is important to choose the right model that is safe and comfortable for your child.
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Published: December 24, 2013
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