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  • Emily Meagher

but she can walk?

why abby has a wheelchair even though she CAN walk

This is a question/comment that we get a lot.

"Why would you let her use a wheelchair if she CAN walk?"

"Her legs will get weak if she is not walking"

"She doesn't need the wheelchair"

So here's the thing...

Abby has cerebral palsy. Individuals with CP use 3-5x more energy on tasks that others may do effortlessly. Every single movement that Abby makes with her body is so much different. Abby is constantly overcompensating for the fact that her brain communicates with her muscles very differently due to a malformation that happened before birth. In the simplest form- Cerebral means brain and Palsy means weakness.

Abby CAN walk with her crutches, YES! She does use her crutches to ambulate pretty much everywhere she goes. They give her complete independence in most circumstances. She can use them to walk up steps and hills. She can walk over rocks at the lake and sand at the beach. They are such an incredible tool that have completely changed her life. At this point her crutches are basically a part of her. They're something that she puts on every single day after she gets dressed.

So why the wheelchair then?

When Abby is walking, she is using up most of her energy to get to where she is going. Once she gets there, sometimes she just exhausted and then she can't enjoy where she was headed in the first place. The wheelchair allows her to save up some of that energy. Propelling her wheelchair lets her stay independent, while giving her some momentum to roll at a faster pace. This is perfect for keeping up with her siblings and peers or for going through somewhere like a shopping mall.

When Abby was younger, a stroller was so useful for her. At this point in her life, a stroller or wagon isn't developmentally appropriate anymore, so giving her the independence to propel herself, OR be pushed if she prefers, in a comfortable seat that helps with her posture and was literally created to her exact measurements is the perfect tool! Her chair is just as important in her life as her crutches are. It is not a disadvantage for her to have a wheelchair, it is actually a huge advantage! It does not take away from her choice or ability to walk. The wheelchair actually gives her more freedom, time to rest, and helps to strengthen different parts of her body!

With that being said, Abby's personal preference almost all of the time is to walk and to use her crutches. She feels much more confident this way. She loves to have more control over exactly where she is placing herself and let's be honest- some places really are not accessible for wheelchair users and that can be frustrating for her. She is still learning to use her chair and she practices often! She has been advocating for a little while that she would love to have a power option for her chair so we have been working on adding that modification for her! We are so happy to provide her with both options to ambulate so that she can choose which is best for her body at the time.

As for Abby's chair, the specific model is the TiLite Pilot by Permobil!


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