WheelAir: System (custom seating)
Seating: Consolor moulded seat
Conditions: Quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy, global developmental delay, visual impairment
Rosie enjoys going for walks in her wheelchair, watching films, having her dog with her, sensory time, listening to music and being with family and friends
Rosie is a 16-year-old from Hertfordshire, England. As someone with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy, Rosie has never been able to walk or stand and has required a wheelchair throughout her entire life.
She has long experienced thermoregulation issues such as heat discomfort and excessive sweat build-up. As a result, Rosie could only ever tolerate being in her wheelchair for a maximum of one hour. Her back would become sweaty, even during winter, making sitting in a wheelchair an uncomfortable and irritable experience. Not only that but the overheating and over-sweating also produced heat rash on her back and legs.
Rosie’s mother explained that she could only spend a very limited time in her wheelchair:
“Hospital appointments were limited as Rosie would want to come out of her chair frequently which was not always possible. Overheating can cause seizures which Rosie has. She could not attend school trips as she would not tolerate being in her wheelchair and be very uncomfortable and cry.”
Rosie’s mother tried a number of solutions to manage these issues, including cooling fan attachments, moisture-absorbent sheets and creams for Rosie’s heat rash. However, these did not provide sufficient relief and Rosie’s mother continued the search for a more comprehensive solution.
“A private physiotherapist told me about WheelAir”, she explained. “I called and had a very pleasant conversation with Corien [CEO of WheelAir].”
A WheelAir system was custom-fitted to Rosie’s Consolor moulded seat, which provides full postural support. Rosie now uses the WheelAir for the entire time she sits in her chair and on the highest fan speed to ensure maximum cooling. Before she is put in her seat, the WheelAir is turned on to “pre-cool” the seat surface.
Rosie’s mother said that the WheelAir has “100%” been a success and made “a complete difference” to not only Rosie’s life but to her family’s too. All of Rosie’s favourite past times, like going for a walk, spending time with her dog or seeing family and friends, are now much more tolerable for her with improved temperature control.
“Rosie can now tolerate up to 5 hours in her chair with the WheelAir on. Her back no longer has a rash and we can travel to places which are further than one hour away. Rosie had her first stay at the Seaside in Deal in Kent as we knew she could tolerate the 2 and half hour drive there. It’s made an incredible difference to her life and she is so much happier.
“When a carer or teacher sometimes forgets to turn the WheelAir on, Rosie’s back becomes sweaty and she is uncomfortable and will moan. By her moaning we can tell she is not happy and – on realising the WheelAir is not on – when we turn it on her moaning will stop and she is happy again!”
WheelAir has made her more comfortable and Rosie can tolerate sitting in her wheelchair for longer amounts of time, this helps with Rosie’s scoliosis as she has the postural support she needs sitting in her seat. Furthermore, because we are able to manage her temperature, this helps us avoid seizures that are provoked by overheating.
An unexpected benefit of using the WheelAir is that Rosie can now tolerate her feeds sitting in her wheelchair with WheelAir on, which helps her reflux – something which her mother describes as “a very positive step”. The improved comfort and sitting times that are afforded by using the WheelAir will also help with Rosie’s scoliosis.
Importantly, the WheelAir has also allowed for a reduction in time allocated to personal healthcare and condition management throughout the day.
“Rosie will tolerate up to 4 hours more time in her wheelchair since using the Wheelair,” explained her mother. “So yes, it is easier caring for her as she will be happy sitting in the room with us, or being in the kitchen whilst cooking (with her also joining in) and, of course, longer walks and journeys in the car to special places.”
“[WheelAir] is fantastic and has changed all our lives. Going anywhere with Rosie before Wheelair was also problematic and Rosie was so unhappy. Because of her brain damage she cannot always control her body heat and sweats in Winter – so anytime of year it was difficult taking her anywhere.”