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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Boston Abilities Expo Experience

This was our first visit to an abilities expo. I was oddly excited. We really enjoyed it and spent a solid 4 hours looking and trying out everything. Brendan was a little overwhelmed. He handled it great and tried out bikes, power chairs and the chill out chair.

School has been pushing for a power wheelchair for Brendan. I knew that I wanted him to have one when he turned 18 but I am realizing he may need one sooner. In his high school they start to go out into the work force. They actually go to work for part of the week as they age so this is something he will need before adulthood. I had my heart set on the Permobile standing power chair. I wanted to see all the other options before he trials one. I am a little torn. I loved the Rovi x3. The size, the features and the look of it. Brendan did really well driving them around. One gentleman even commented that he picked it up very quickly for a first time user. I was really proud of him today. He tried everything out without any attitude. Even though he was overwhelmed he didn't break down in any way. He was transferred to many chairs and a few bikes and was amazing through it all.

We also really love the E-Fix power add on drive. These wheels pop onto your manual chair and a joystick is added. Your manual chair becomes your power chair. We love this option because the chair is still lightweight. The base doesn't change and he can still power move his chair. He seemed to like it. You can pop on your regular wheels if you feel power isn't needed like in the house. I feel this is all he really needs to get around but the power chairs do offer some features that I feel he should have.

For instance, the power chairs have seats that raise up so he can be at eye level. It was honestly amazing to look and talk to him at my level. I am always leaning over or crouching down to talk to him. He must always feel beneath everyone. Just talking to him face to face felt amazing! I know standing is extremely beneficial and he doesn't stand enough. High school really slacks off putting him into the stander even though he is supposed to stand daily. This bothers me but I totally get it. It takes a lot of time to transfer him and stand him up to begin a lesson. If he had the Permobile power chair he could easily attach two positioners, push a button and stand up. Sounds simple. Sounds like there could be literally no excuse. He could stand up to reach for things. He could stand up to talk or to simply stretch out his legs if he felt the need. The only downfall is the front wheel drive. It has a wide turning radius and the base looks larger than the Rovi x3. It didn't look large in the expo but in the classroom he would definitely take up some real estate. It is actually a very difficult decision. I need to talk to some mom's or people that use these chairs to make a better decision. I am also going to ask to trial both power chairs. I think using it for a few weeks would help make our decision.

Brendan didn't really have a preference. If we asked what chair he liked he would always say he liked his manual chair the best. I found this baffling because he has always wanted a power chair. He has used his manual chair for almost 8 years now so maybe it is what he is used to. Part of me feels the power chairs are a little overkill for him. I realize we do push him a lot in his manual. He isn't 100% independent in it. He tires or is slow so for him to keep up with us we push him. It would be nice for him to just wheel along side of us and not exert any energy.

We had to have some fun too so we tried out a really cool power assist tandem bike, huka Orion. It was so much fun to wheel around with little effort. He got to sit right next to me. He had a huge smile the whole time. he really enjoyed this bike. However the price tag is large, $8000 large! He also tested out the Freedom Concepts Adventure bike. It is the next size up for him. The largest and we placed an order! He chose red this time. He has had two Freedom Concepts bikes over the last 12 years. I guess he wanted to switch it up. I can't wait for him to fit right on his new bike. His knees are literally hitting his handlebars on his old bike. He has been using it so much so it was a much needed purchase.

We also checked out the Freedom Concepts Chill Out Chair. I recently came across the name and have been wanting to check it out in person. I have been wanting to get him out of his wheelchair off and on so he isn't always sitting in that 90 degree angle. It is super comfortable and has an ottoman. He actually has some growth in the larger chair which is great. He seemed to really like it. It has a tray that can slide over him so he can still use his computer or have a snack. He can stretch out his legs and we can even use e-stim while he sits. It has great positioning. He wanted black so guess what, we ordered one. I can finally stop complaining about him always being in his chair.

Speaking of that I need to get off this computer and go stretch and work him out!



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