Wheelchair gives teenager a sense of independence
A 14-year-old boy from Cannock, who has degenerative muscle disorder that has left him a permanent wheelchair user, has received a state-of-the-art powered wheelchair that has given him a new sense of independence.
The wheelchair was provided with funding support from Caudwell Children, the Staffordshire based charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families.
Liam Elson, a pupil at Queen’s Croft High School in Lichfield, was reliant on his mother, Lisa, and his teachers to assist him in his daily life. Because he only has a 5% range of movement in his upper body they had to push his manual wheelchair to enable him to access school and the outside world.
His lack of mobility had started to affect his well-being and Lisa was worried about her son’s health. As she explained: “Liam also has autism and he can become quite anxious. Because he doesn’t have the upper body strength to propel a manual wheelchair he was always apologising to the teachers when they had to push him, and it was really getting him down.
“What he really needed was a powered wheelchair but the NHS simply don’t provide them, which is a real problem for children with Liam’s level of mobility.”
Lisa also found it difficult to push Liam’s manual wheelchair and as a result he spent many solitary hours indoors either gaming, reading or watching Marvel films.
“Getting out was a nightmare,” sighed Lisa. “He has to attend Birmingham Children’s Hospital on a regular basis and I really struggled to push his old chair on and off the trains.”
But now, thanks to Caudwell Children’s support, Liam’s life has changed for the better.
“The new powered wheelchair is perfect,” enthused Lisa. “It has special functions that allow the chair to tilt and the legs and seat can also be elevated or reclined, which means that Liam can position the chair for maximum comfort.”
This has allowed Liam to navigate around his school independently and he can now access desk space that he had previously been unable to fit into.
Lisa is now able to take her son further afield and as the chair has been designed to safely negotiate difficult terrains Liam can now explore otherwise inaccessible areas.
“We can’t thank Caudwell Children enough,” said Lisa. “The chair, which is ideally suited to Liam’s needs, cost an eye-watering £14,575, which is way beyond most people’s budget.
“Liam only has what I would call two close friends but who knows with this new wheelchair, and the opportunities it will give him, this may change in the future.”
Mark Bushell, from Caudwell Children, is delighted that the charity could support Liam. He said: “We’re so pleased that Liam has finally got his new powered wheelchair and it will improve his quality of life immeasurably as it makes many more things accessible to him.
“It even has pressure relieving foam to aid comfort and prevent pressure sores, and the seat and back rest sizes are fully adjustable so that he will not outgrow the chair.
“It’s already started to help him become more independent in his school environment, which is extremely important to a young man of his age.
“Unfortunately, these highly specialised pieces of equipment come at a price, but with the continued support of the local community we can help even more young people like Liam.”
You can find out more about Caudwell Children’s services here.