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Mobility Week: The benefits of early powered mobility

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To celebrate Naidex’s Mobility Week, Posture & Mobility Group (PMG) would like to shine a light on an area not always considered by those working in the world of mobility: early powered mobility i.e. powered mobility for children 5 years and under.

In 2014, PMG published an amended version of the best practice guideline (BPG) ‘Clinical practice considerations for the use and introduction of powered mobility with children’, which was originally published in 2010 following the 4th International Conference on Posture & Wheeled Mobility, Glasgow. The BPG was written by an international group of therapists, led by Roslyn Livingstone and Ginny Paleg.

The BPG discusses how “the onset of crawling has a broad effect on children’s overall development and how using a power mobility device has been shown to trigger emotional and visual-perceptual development in a similar manner. Children typically take independent steps and freely explore their environment by 12-15 months of age, whereas children with physical disabilities may have limited opportunities to learn about the properties and principles of their own bodies in space. Lack of purposeful movement and a limited ability to affect the environment can result in passive, dependent behaviour. Power mobility allows children with physical disabilities to move around more effectively and efficiently in their environment.”

The full BPG can be downloaded from the PMG website by clicking here and scrolling down to BPG7.

PMG are also in the process of collecting comments about the BPG, which will help the original contributors to review the guideline, ensuring it is up-to-date with current knowledge and research in the area. If you would like to contribute to this review, there is an interactive document available here. You simply need to click on the section you would like to comment on and follow the instructions in the right-hand column.

Roslyn Livingstone is also now conducting further research into the area, which is being funded by PMG. The study “will measure change in children’s driving skill after 6-months' early power mobility experience and will explore whether improved power mobility skills corresponds with young children’s achievement of parent-identified goals”. If you would like to find out more about this research, details are available here.

If you would like to learn more about early powered mobility, you can watch Jo Jex’s presentation ‘Little explorers’ from the PMG Conference 2017 via our website. All you need to do is become a member of PMG (which is completely free of charge!) and then visit our past presentations section here, clicking on Conference 2017, Webcasts and then scrolling down to PL3.3. Happy viewing!


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