By Brian Reilly, seating practitioner
In the Assistive Technology Department at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, customized seating system components are designed and often redesigned. They are built, rebuilt, modified and fitted onto patients’ wheelchairs as their needs change over time. Our process is customized for the unique needs of each individual child.
At Gillette, seating practitioners like myself collaborate with a wide variety of individuals — including physicians, nurses, therapists, orthotists, group home caregivers, teachers, insurers, durable medical equipment (DME) vendors, families, and of course patients themselves. Our goal is to provide functionally appropriate adaptive equipment that meets our patients’ individual, family, community and care team needs.
This holistic, collaborative, patient-centered and creative approach is unique to Gillette, and the outcomes we see here are frequently quite remarkable and beneficial to others around our region, country, and even world. Gillette provides everything we need for these highly customized projects: quality materials and tools, state of the art facilities and equipment, experienced specialists, and the time and training to meet our patients’ standards for excellence.
Spinal muscular atrophy, for instance, is among the many complex conditions Gillette specializes in treating. Effective treatment of this degenerative neuromuscular condition requires a great deal of teamwork, which brings to mind some inspiring patients we’ve worked with over the years.
Sophia is one of the first patients that comes to mind. She first drove a power wheelchair at just 2 years old! Incorporating ideas from her parents, school, Gillette therapists and countless others, we were able to create additional age-appropriate (and fun!) activities for Sophia to enjoy with her power wheelchair. For example, we worked with Sophia’s mother to find new and creative ways for Sophia to access her computer, control her fingers and even amplify her voice. From drawing with sidewalk chalk to adaptive skiing and ballet, there are many things Sophia can do with a little creativity and adaptation.
Mary Kate, who happens to be friends with Sophia, has experienced similar changes and evolution of her powered mobility systems over the years. Mary Kate’s mom, a physical therapist herself, has guided the care team with great passion and gentleness, helping Mary Kate to master driving, enjoy graceful adaptive dance performances, participate in 4H, and work with animals on her family’s farm.
Collaborating with families like these, and the many other Gillette professionals involved, is very rewarding. Health care delivery at its finest, I’d say. All of our families say Gillette rocks! Our job is to make sure nothing stops our patients from enjoying their favorite things and being all they can be.
Editor's note: Mary Kate is pictured at left with her goat; Sophia is pictured at right with her sisters.