"My favourite thing is seeing a child receive their mobility aid. To you who has given the help to them, it is great." Herbert, Physiotherapist

The first instalment of our Wheelchair Diaries series comes from Physiotherapist Herbert. Having been trained by Motivation, he has been working at a national hospital in Uganda for six years. In his diary excerpt below, Herbert gives us behind the scenes access by taking us through the process of prescribing someone a wheelchair - from start to finish...

23rd January 2017

A day in the life of a wheelchair service

by Herbert, Physiotherapist, Uganda

"We start receiving our clients who all have appointments at 9am. We begin by assessing the clients. This starts with collecting their bio-data. This includes their name, age, sex, address and contact info.

We then check their medical status. The majority of children we see have cerebral palsy. The assessment takes about 30 minutes. We note down the environment the patient is going to use the wheelchair. We check their posture and if they have a history of pressure sores, as well as asking if they have had a wheelchair before.

We then take the patients measurements. This includes their sitting width, the sitting depth, the calf length. There are also measurements for back and head rests. Most children with cerebral palsy require a headrest.

We then move on to the prescription of the wheelchair. There are two products - the Moti Start and the Moti Go. The Moti Start does not have wheels. It provides postural support for very small children who do not require mobility yet. The Moti Go provides both postural support and mobility.

We then send the prescription to the technicians (who are also trained by Motivation) for assessment. We have 13 trained technicians.  They are trained to be able to adjust a wheelchair to the patient’s needs. The time it takes to fit the chair depends on the intricacies of the patient’s postural state. They can adjust wheelchairs from a large to a medium using the technician’s knowledge and expertise. One of the patients today had to have a large adjusted to his needs as they have no stock of medium wheelchairs currently.

Next comes the fitting. We make sure the measurements are correct and then give user training to the parents. This includes how to take care of it, put on the straps and get the patient in and out of the chair.

On average we see 4 clients in a day between 9am and 4pm.  It can take roughly 3-4 hours from the start of the assessment until they can leave with the finished wheelchair.

My favourite thing is seeing a child receive their mobility aid - particularly their supportive device. Seeing the child’s life improve with the postural and stability aid. To you who has given the help to them, it is great. But especially to see the improvement to the parent's life who are able to perform their daily tasks a lot quicker and with peace of mind their children receiving postural support.

I am also a trainer of trainers and a parent carer trainer - I teach parents to children with cerebral palsy how to look after them.  I find this very rewarding. They are often single mothers and grandmothers. Fathers often run away. This group work helps mothers who are in a similar situation provides support to each other.

In 2014 a two year old child came to visit. They were one of the first beneficiaries. He was unable to sit. I met them at the cerebral palsy clinic. At that time I was a physio at the cerebral palsy clinic. I referred them to the wheelchair service. They gave the child a Moti Start wheelchair. He was unable to sit and was very small. After they received the Moti Start, the child was able to sit up by themselves. We are waiting for the next consignment of chairs to see if they can progress to a Moti Go chair. The mother was so happy with the child’s progression!"

Want to find out more?

The right wheelchair can make all the difference to someone's quality of life - it provides freedom, mobility and independence. Training and supporting wheelchair service providers to individually prescribe and fit each wheelchair is a crucial part of our mission and we’ve worked with the World Health Organization to develop training packages for this very purpose. 

To discover more about this area of our work, head to wheelchair service training.

Photos © Matt Grayson