Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Attaching the AAC Device to a Wheelchair

Hey Tek-ninjas! In this post I want to talk about wheelchair mounting. This is often the bane of many speech therapists. A colleague from a large mounting company made the observation in regards to slps and mounts, that "those drawn to language, may not necessarily be drawn to building". Essentially, assembling a chair mount to a chair is like building with an Erector Set from my childhood.

So not everyone is drawn towards building, and your friendly neighborhood Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist may be out of the picture, or have limited mounting experience themselves. None-the-less, wheelchair mounting is also a key factor supporting your end-users being able to consistently access their equipment, no matter their access modality. Unfortunately, there really is not an "industry standard" among wheelchair manufacturers for attaching AAC devices.

Often I sell the same chair mount, but there is an attachment piece necessary to join the mount to the chair. And those parts vary significantly. 

Regardless of which AAC vendor you are working with, your Sales Rep should be able to help you, but will be better able to do so with some specific information.

If the Rep has not been involved in choosing/selecting the appropriate device (because you are such a comfortable veteran AAC therapist) you will need to tell them what device your client wants, and what the access methods are.

Some wheelchair manufacturers are pretty cut and dry when it comes to recommending attachment parts. For example Permobil and Quickie Power Chairs have a version of channel nuts. Once I hear we are mounting to those chairs, I really don't need much other information or photos. Other manufacturers might require a 1 inch tube (side clamp, or tube clamp) and other manufacturers require different dimensions.

Photo Angles
The Rep may need pictures of the chair. I cannot tell you how many times I've asked for a picture, and received a lovely picture of a smiling child or adult suitable for a holiday card, but offering no insight regarding the chair! So, take a look at the "Photo Angles" picture to see what your Rep is likely looking for. Smiling pictures of your clients are always welcome, but not always helpful in this situation.

Other considerations may include: does the end-user have a lap tray? Is there a preference for which side the mount is on? This can be dictated by pre-existing equipment on the chair (ie: joy-stick). Or maybe a caregiver needs to do chair transfers to one side due to their own health/medical issues.

I hope this post facilitates acquiring the correct mount for your clients.

Happy therapy!

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