Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A perfect fit - adapting wheelchairs

 Our long term care project cares for older disabled orphans.  These are children who with severe physical and mental disabilities who are unable to attend school or care for themselves and will never be able to live independently.  Most of them depend on wheelchairs to move about when they are not in bed.

Children with such severe disabilities usually require specially adapted wheelchairs; those that can help support and position the child, not just for comfort, but also for safety and to best meet their complex medical and therapy needs.  Of course, such wheelchairs are not only expensive, have very limited availability in China, and they also require proper fitting and adaptations as a child grows. 
Fortunately, there are many low cost ideas for adapting equipment for disabled persons, and one of our recent volunteers, Florence, decided to take on this problem.   Florence saw that the ordinary wheelchairs we were already using could easily be adapted with the help of some foam and a lot busy hands!

A generous donor helped us purchase large sheets of thick foam for the project:

 Then cardboard templates were made to fit the size of the wheelchairs:

 And the templates were used to cut the foam padding:


Which was then fitted in the chair; small adjustments were made:

And then a happy little fellow volunteered to test it out:

Here are all the foam pieces, ready to be glued:

Then the foam was glued to form individual blocks.  Note the blue jeans in the background - those are stuffed and then decorated to be used as other low cost positioning aids.

 At last, the blocks were covered with fabric, fastened to the wheelchairs and ready for use:

What do you think, don't they look pleased?

Thank you, Florence, for heading up this project.  With a little ingenuity and hard work (OK, make that a LOT of hard work!) our kids now have wheelchairs that provide better support and positioning.  And our staff have learned that often you can find simple, low cost solutions that will make life for disabled children so much better!


  1. I love it!! Such a beautiful solution - such happy smiles!!!!

  2. This is a great idea - and foam isn't too hard to find in China, I would think (we use it for our mattresses). I love the look in the kid's eyes when they're comfortable and alert.