On the Move
The generosity of the Kentucky Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities has recently provided one of our St. Joseph Home residents, Madison, the means to get up out of her wheelchair and be mobile on her own in her home. A gait trainer takes mobility one step further, to act as a supportive walking device. It offers both un-weighting support and postural alignment to stand and to bear weight in a safe position allowing an individual who typically depends on a wheelchair for mobility to work towards the goal of standing and eventually ambulation.
Mobilation equipment like a gait trainer, not only enriches an individual’s socialization, but they maintain upright mobility which is necessary for a wide array of physical, physiological and emotional benefits. Standing allows everything in one’s body to work better. Gastro-intestinal and urinary systems operate more efficiently, head and trunk control improves and general strengthening by being upright and making small movements is another plus. Even one’s sense of balance and their visual system improves. Jean Shannon, our onsite Physical Therapist, explains “More interaction with their environment means our residents are learning more about themselves in their environment. Depth perception, the relation between their bodies and space, where their joints and muscles come into play – a lot of information is taken in when standing.”
Madison had previous experience using a gait trainer that is available for use by students at Bobbie B. Fairfax School in Madisonville, where she is a student, and it has meant a world of difference for her. At school, the gait trainer allows Maddie to stand and, because she is properly supported, walk down the hallways. Walking improves her motor skills, and allows her to stand and bear weight, thereby breathing better and improving her circulatory system. Madison is used to being up, getting out and around and doing things. She helps deliver attendance sheets, works at the school’s Snack Shack….the mobilation equipment has opened up a whole new world for her.
Today’s assistive devices are easily adjustable so more than just one resident can use and benefit from one piece of equipment. However, the equipment is expensive and that is truly the biggest barrier to resident access. St. Joseph Home receives funding from Medicaid that covers the costs of medical care on a per diem rate, but that does not include funds to provide additional or innovative means of therapy. Thanks to those individuals and organizations like Speedway Children’s Charities who invest in the lives of our residents, they are helping them to reach their fullest potential.