Carol Cruden RPN Qualicare Franchsie Corporation
Most of us would never think twice about those large, awkward and seemingly hard to manoeuver wheelchairs that a percentage of our population have to use. But for those who rely on one, it is as important as a set of legs.
Wheelchairs have come a long way since the wheelbarrows and ‘invalid chairs’ and large clumsy units of the past. Thanks to modern day technology, wheelchairs now assist the occupant in performing an array of tasks that were once impossible to accomplish.
Known as SMART (Specialist Mobility and Rehabilitation Technology) wheelchairs, they are a motorized platform with a chair designed to assist a user with their physical disability, with an artificial control system that replaces the need for user control. A user is able to reduce or even eliminate the need to “drive” their wheelchair. It is computer-controlled, with many sensors and other technology used in mobile robotics.
Smart wheelchairs are designed for a variety of users with several different impairments, such as ALS, cancer-related amputation, age-related limb weakness or paralysis and surgical rehabilitation. Different features can address specific issues or needs, such as reading, muscular activity, collision avoidance, internal directional GPS and scanning. They can be speech-driven; joystick- commanded or used with communication aids such as laptops and cellular devices. They can be adjusted to be used on a variety of surfaces, such as concrete, sand, low levels of water and grass. These chairs will also assist in shifting users into upright, lying down or standing positions. SMART wheelchair users can experience new opportunities for communication, learning, exploration and play, while achieving significant improvement in independent mobility.
The SMART wheelchair is one of the most innovative new products for the disabled. It has revolutionized a population that had become hostage to their immobility and provides a better quality of life. They also give family members and caregivers a sense of relief knowing that their loved one is safer, more comfortable, able to be more independent and has the best opportunity at achieving a degree of normalcy. Consider some of our greatest inventions and their evolution throughout the last few hundred years…SMART certainly compliments what we once knew as a typical wheelchair, and makes it so much more than we could have ever dreamt possible. Download Disabilities - Wheelchair PDF