Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wheelchair or stroller

I have been doing a lot of researching to try to find the best way of transportation for Reagan.  She is able to walk well at our house and at school because she is familiar with the setting and layout, but she needs more assistance in public places.  I think it is best that she is pushed around in those places to protect her from falling and hurting herself.

We bought her this stroller when she started school to have for times when she became too tired to walk and to be pushed from the cafeteria to her classroom.  However, she is now so comfortable at school that she walks most places and they only use it for about 30 minutes for her to rest mid-way through the morning.  I would still love to continue to use this stroller for her because it is so compact and suits her well.  But my tall girl has already grown out of it and her legs drag the ground.

Her teacher and physical therapist at school recommended we get a single jogger stroller for her to use at school  and in public (something similar to this).  The reason being that we want to encourage her to continue to walk as much as possible and a wheelchair would make it easy for her to rely on her to push her too often. That and wheelchairs are much more expensive!  My hesitation is that I don't want to buy another stroller (we already have 5 in our shed) that she will outgrow and no longer need in a year.  I do not know if it would be more sense financially to invest in a wheelchair now instead of buying a stroller now and then a wheelchair in a year or two.

I found a couple of wheelchairs online that seem to possibly fit Reagan's current needs but would also fit her needs later too.  I really like this one by Special Tomato because we could use it to go to school as well as hiking and the mall.  Also, it is not quite as expensive as a typical wheelchair.

I am adding this decision to the list of decisions that need to be made but seem too difficult so I will procrastinate for another 6 months until it is absolutely necessary!


  1. I agree with you. You want something that will suit Reagan for at least 5 years or more. You do want her to walk. If you've met any of our girls who don't walk (I assume you have) you are doing everything you can to retain that. I think you understand the GI motility benefits, gross muscles strength etc. that are at stake.

    But, from my perspective you want to be comfortable pushing Reagan yourself. I assume that you'd like to take her running with you from the jogger theme. You're going to want the adaptive for that. Teachers/therapists are looking at things from their perspective. You have a very birds eye view of the problem.

    Save up your pennies. And get the one that you're comfortable with when you have the money saved.

  2. Kathy and I looked at this post together and we LOVE the special tomato one. When we clicked on the link and the picture came up we both said out loud, "that's a wheelchair"? It's very much like a joggoing stroller...but even more cool! And it looks like she would fit for several years! You know, cause we're experts (not) we would go with special tomato if we were you! :) Yep, there's our two cents! :)

  3. It does get hard to find something for big kids. Even though Abby walks at home, our doctor and PT wrote orders for a pediatric wheelchair for longer distances. It took about 8 months to get it approved, but we love it. It looks like a stroller, but its so comfortable and adjustable and it will last for years. Does Reagan ride the bus to school? Our school system just started insisting that she ride in a wheelchair on the bus because it was too risky to carry her up the stairs. It is only for transit. At school, she is taken out of it at the door. I wonder if your insurance would pay for a wheelchair if it were written up to prevent falls and injuries? On the other side, the strollers are probably lighter weight. Good luck finding the right one for miss Reagan!

  4. Dawn,
    We struggled with this, as well. Alyssa is not as mobile as Reagan. However, Alyssa uses a walker independently at school. We struggled with the same decision of stroller vs. wheelchair and the idea that a wheelchair would make it easier for her to be dependent on it. But, here was our reasoning... the wheelchair grows with her and my BIGGEST reasoning for the wheelchair over the stroller was positioning. I didn't want her slouching over or leaning back for fear of back issues. I also liked that in the manual wheelchair she can push herself around, whereas in the stroller she is completely dependent on someone else to push her. So, we went with the wheelchair and she has had it for 1 1/2 years. She doesn't even take it in to school because she uses her walker, however we love the ability to have the wheelchair when we go to the park, zoo, museums, or to Boston! :-) She can pull right up to the table to eat and she is comfortable becasue it is sized specifically for her! This was the best decision for us based on our needs. You can see Alyssa's wheelchair in the "photos" section of her website:
    Good luck!

  5. Two years ago we got Riley a wheelchair. I did a blog post about it here: and in case that link doesn't work it was April 2009. :) Riley walks some and they have her walk at school so we don't even send it to school. Her chair is approved to go on the bus but so far they just have us carry her on/off the bus. Like Susan said the biggest reason we got it is the positioning, she is definitely more comfortable in this than a regular stroller, and we can push it up to a table at a restaurant and she can sit in it to eat. Plus her chair will grow with her for years. Riley's PT evaluated her and recommended it and hers was paid for by either Medicaid or our insurance, I can't remember which one covered the bigger chunk. But definitely something to look into!