Finding the right equipment for your child’s physical needs is essential. We have purchased several pieces of ill-fitting equipment that we have had some hard regrets about. Equipment is expensive and typically takes a while to receive once it is ordered. This is why you want to make sure you have knowledgeable therapists and vendors working with you. How do you know if you do? Ask fellow parents. The purpose of purchasing equipment is to provide support to your child (and caregivers) often to encourage independence and growth. If your equipment is ill-fitting it may “lock” your child into positions that may increase habits and patterns that professionals are trying to help your child unwind. In this case your equipment is not serving your child well. Take your time in determining what equipment you would like to order.

You have the ultimate say to the therapist and vendor working for you and your child. In fact, I suggest that for items that will receive daily use or are for travel, that you begin your search by making a list of what you need equipment to do for your child and for you. What is difficult for both of you that you are hoping will be made easier with the equipment?

We have found that a combination of doing our own internet and catalog research, along with having Maya try out several different pieces of equipment (ask vendors, therapists, fellow parents), has been essential in determining what will work and will not work for us. We then combine this with the knowledge that the therapists and vendors have in order to determine the best option to purchase.

Finding Mainstream and Adaptive Seating Solutions

Reflections On Our First Wheelchair Purchase: Lessons Learned

Innovative Devices and Helpful Accessories:

HeadPod dynamic head support device: A device that promotes head control for children with combined hypotonia of the neck and trunk. The company lists indications for use on their website. Consult with your therapy and medical professionals for guidance and appropriate use.

I presented the HeadPod device on the CP Daily Living facebook page because I had never seen anything like it. I was curious to know if anyone had purchased one and how it was working for them. It is not a device that we have tried nor that is indicated for our daughter, but I wanted to share it here as something for people to research. Head and neck control can be a problem for people with cerebral palsy and for this reason I solicited input from followers.

Here is what one parent had to say:

“We purchased the HeadPod a year and a half year ago for our son Kyle who’s 5.5 yrs old and it was the best piece of equipment we’ve ever purchased. Kyle has Athetoid CP and this was our answer, for him, in seeing the world the proper way. It made a HUGE difference for Kyle as far as his interaction with people, made feeding easier, helped him with building his neck muscles in the correct way. I can’t stop recommending the HeadPod. The staff are extremely helpful and professional (they know their product). The kit comes with different attachements that you can use on different pieces of equipment.” -Mom Carine, UK

The following universal cup holder by Valco was so great for our Combi stroller that when we changed to a Convaid wheelchair I was hoping it would still fit.  It did!  I love this cup holder and it fits so many different size drinks (including Maya’s sippy cup). Of course, you don’t know if it will fit your child’s chair before you buy it but boy is it worth it if it does. It has been very durable!

Super cool spoke guard covers! Check out the fun designs they offer to personalize your chair!

Online consumer equipment review databases:

USA Tech Guide: This is a program of the United Spinal Association. It is the best resource I have found for equipment and assistive technology reviews by consumers. You may submit and read other people’s reviews here. The site also offers some good resources about disability travel and wheelchair adaptive sports.

ABLEdata: AbleData provides objective information on assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment available from domestic and international sources to consumers, organizations, professionals, and caregivers within the United States.

Equipment funding assistance/relief agencies–Is there a piece of equipment that your child needs that is not being covered by insurance? Are you having difficulty putting the money together to purchase it?

Check out these resources:

New!! Check out this very comprehensive resource list of grants and agencies that provide support to families with a diversity of medical needs and individual support needs.  

You may wish to contact the Disabled Children’s Relief Fund if you live in the United States.

Variety The Children’s Charity National Mobility Program– provides much needed assistance to children with mobility concerns. Here is the link to application for assistance

If you are in the SE part of the US you may wish to contact Friends of Disabled Adults and Children.

Canadian families may wish to contact President’s Choice Children’s Charity.

e-Special Needs online marketplace has a great funding resources page.

International relief agencies:

Agencies/groups working to bring wheelchairs & other equipment to children throughout the world who have limited access to equipment (some of these are faith based organizations). 

Hope Haven International

Joni and Friends

Knights of Columbus Global Wheelchair Mission

First Hand Foundation-Worldwide assistance for medical and equipment funding

*Also be sure to check out the equipment resale and exchange directory below*

Daily living aids/specific products

*We have separate sections on our website for information and products related to eating, sleeping, using the bathroom, and clothing/wearable items.

Grocery/Retail shopping supportive items:

Prop ‘R Shopper: Suggested to us by a follower of our website and facebook page this product is certainly a better alternative than the bags of sugar and flour we were using at the suggestion of our physical therapist.

The Wrap Strap: From six months-two years. Referred to as the “anywhere safety strap” the Wrap Strap works well with shopping carts that often have a missing buckle.

For older children there is a new cart available for purchase by retailers called Caroline’s Cart. You may wish to bring information to your local stores about it to inspire them to start having them available for use in their stores. I think it is fantastic!

Some equipment & supply developers

Achievable Concepts: Offer adapted recreation and sports equipment for people with disabilities and the aged.

Advance Mobility: A division of the Baby Jogger, Advance Mobility aims help children and adults with special needs to pursue and be a part of an active lifestyle by offering all-terrain push chairs.

Kaye Products: The maker of the the Kaye bolster chair which has been the only chair Maya has been able to use comfortably without having her pelvis slide forward. Remember all children with CP present with different physical issues, so if you are curious about it check with your child’s therapy and/or medical professional to see if it may be appropriate for your child.

Prime Engineering: Makers of the KidWalk Dynamic Mobility System.

Miraflex Eyewear: This company offers glass frames for kids that we love! They are very flexible, light weight, and very durable. They have a stretchable band that snaps onto the sides. They come in tons of colors.

Mulholland: Producers of gait trainers, standers, and seating systems (wheelchairs). Mulholland has been listed here because their gait trainers worked well for Maya when others didn’t. I don’t know why this is but its concept is similar to the KidWalk (which we did purchase) and is very well respected by professionals representing multiple philosophical approaches to movement.

Otto Bock: Started in 1919 in Germany, Otto Bock offers many products and services related to supporting people with mobility challenges. I have often heard friends who have children with cp and other disabilities as well as parents on cp forums rave about their Kimba wheelchairs. I recently saw that they produce a special needs car seat that swivels for easier transfers. You will not readily find Otto Bock products on many of the US online equipment sites so ask your equipment vendors for more information and visit their website.

Snug Seat: We have welcomed the streamlined, cool look of the snug seat products. They are innovative, easy to use, quality products that have creative names and make the equipment more appealing children (and adults). The one downside I have found thus far is that the size and weight of the products we have tried make them very difficult to transport.

Special Tomato: Started by a father to a child with Down Syndrome, Special Tomato is an extraordinary company. Dad was an engineer and decided to take his ideas for helping his daughter to a larger audience. Special Tomato products are characteristically light weight, soft and cushiony, easy to clean and well-priced. This family also started the online equipment store Adaptive Mall.

Rifton: Well known for producing quality products (that also tend to be expensive), Rifton has been a staple of the special needs equipment market for a long time.

Wenzelite:

Purchasing equipment

Tadpole Adaptive: This shop offers a registry feature (similar to a wedding registry but for special needs equipment)

The Therapy Shoppe: Provides an assortment of therapy merchandise, specialty toys and games.

Rehabmart: Started by two occupational therapists who are both parents of special needs children, this site offers discount rehabilitation and medical supplies by most of the top brands on market. They have also started some new content sites with the goal of creating a social network/portal where professionals & caregivers can learn about the latest interventions in the special needs / assistive technology / therapy / rehabilitation community.

Here are the links: www.otshow.com, www.ptshow.com, www.slpshow.com.

Adaptivemall: This site also offers equipment, and medical supplies.  I find the site easy to navigate and have had good experiences with their customer service.

e-Special Needs:  provides an extensive selection equipment and therapy related products for children and adults with special needs.

Liftran Mobility: Patient lifts, slings, and mobility devices.

Equipment exchanges/local classifieds

Online marketplaces:

Different Needz-The Special Needs Marketplace-Buy and sell special needs items

Rehab Equipment Exchange-Online

The Share Network-Special Help and Respite Exchange Network. This site does not look like it’s in good use. I think it would be wonderful for people to start equipment exchanges in their area.

Zach’s List-An online exchange network for Canadian families seeking and selling special needs equipment (I have seen adapted vehicles on here as well)

Online marketplaces on Facebook:

Special Needs Swap Meet-a special needs marketplace on facebook to swap, sell, or give away special needs related items.

Special Needs Gently Used Medical Equipment for Sale

Local (By state) DME Exchanges/equipment loans/classifieds:

Pass It On Center-A national AT reuse center and directory.

The R.E.A.L. Project-Alabama

Easter Seals-Central Alabama

Goodwill/Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast-Alabama

The Arizona Assistive Technology Exchange-Arizona

Arkansas Department of Workforce Education-Arkansas

National MS Society-California

AbleCloset-California-Northern, focus on pediatrics

AT Exchange-California-online classifieds for CA

Kids Mobility Network-Colorado

RMMOR-Colorado

Get AT Stuff-Connecticut/New England

DATI-Delaware

The Equipment Link-Delaware and other neighboring states

Lollipop Kids Foundation-District of Columbia/DC

FAAST-Florida

Friends of Disabled Adults and Children-Georgia and SE US

gTrade-Georgia

ATrc-Hawaii

Idaho Assistive Technology Project-Idaho

Idaho Assistive Technology for All-Idaho

Project Mobility-Illinios

UCP of Greater Chicago-Illinois

Infinitec DME-Illinois

Helping from Heaven-Illinois-has a loan closet

Great Lakes Loan Closets-A directory of lending closets and/or low cost equipment for  Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin

Indiana Equipment Exchange Consortium-Indiana

Indiana Assistive Technology Act-Indiana

Iowa Compass-Iowa classified listings

OCCK Inc.-Kansas

KATS Network-Kentucky-short term loan program

LATAN-Louisiana-loan program

get AT stuff-Maine/New England

Equipment Link-Maryland and surrounding states

Equipment Connections for Children-Maryland

Kennedy Krieger Institute-Maryland-pediatric focus

Unified Community Connections-Maryland

get AT stuff-Massachusetts/New England

AT Xchange-Michigan-buy, sell, give away classifieds

Great Lakes Loan Closets-A directory of lending closets and/or low cost equipment for Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin

STAR program-Minnesota

Goodwill/Easter Seals Equipment loan program-Minnesota

Project Start-Mississippi

Swap n Shop-Missouri

MonTech-Montana

AT 4 All-Nebrasaka

National MS Society-Nevada

get AT Stuff-New Hampshire/New England

Back In Action-New Jersey

Goodwill Home Medical Store-Ewing, NJ

Back In Use-New Mexico

Traid-New York

NC Assistive Technology Exchange Post-North Carolina

IPAT-North Dakota

Assistive Technology of Ohio-Ohio- check the menu at the top of the web page.

ABLE Tech-Oklahoma

Access Technologies Inc-Oregon

The Equipment Link-Pennsylvania & surrounding states

REEP-Pennsylvania

Into New Hands-Pennsylvania

Changing Hands-Central Pennsylvania program run by UCP

Additional Pennsylvania Resources for equipment exchange/borrowing programs

get AT Stuff-Rhode Island/New England

South Carolina Assistive Technology Program-South Carolina

Touch The Future-South Carolina

South Dakota At 4 All-South Dakota

Equipment exchange resources posted by Vanderbilt University-Tennessee

UCP Nashville-Equipment exchange

DME Exchange of Dallas-Texas

Project Mend-Texas

Good Wheelchairs-Texas

Access Utah-Utah

get AT Stuff-Utah

VATS-Virginia

Equipment Connections for Children-Virginia, D.C, & Virginia

MS Helping Hands-Washington- Has a Donor Closet that recycles durable medical equipment and mobility equipment for people in need.(not just people diagnosed with MS).  New and refurbished adult and pediatric equipment are available for minimum suggested donations.  Financial assistance is available.  Located in Edmonds, WA.

Kaitlin’s Mobility Foundation-Washington- Helps children with special needs with w/c’s, ramps, etc.

Lukes’s wheels-Oak Harbor, Washington-Pediatric equipment exchange program. Contact them at: 5buckleys@comcast.net.

Evergreen AT Exchange-Washington

WATAP-Washington-Loan program

Equipment Connections for Children-Washington D.C. & Maryland, & Virginia

Great Lakes Loan Closets-A directory of lending closets and/or low cost equipment for  Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin

Wheelchair Recycling Program Mobility Store-Wisconsin

RMMOR-Wyoming and Colorado