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Assistive Technology Device Placement on a Wheelchair

Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS

August 1, 2023

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Question

Where do we place the device in relation to the client and what are the important considerations when determining device placement in relation to the client?  

Answer

We need to determine approximately where it needs to be positioned so that we can choose the right mount. Once the mount is placed on the chair, there's an adjustment to the mount so we can adjust it from there and finesse the final position. But for now, we need to know approximately where it needs to be for optimal visual regard and optimal access.

There are a few more things we need to keep in mind. Ideally, we want to place the device within the boundaries of the wheelchair footprint itself because we don't want this very expensive, fragile device to get bumped while going through a doorway, for example.  

We also ideally do not want the device right in front of the client's face. We don't want to block the client's view of their communication partner, what's happening in front of them,, which could be a classroom, and where they are self-propelling a manual chair or driving a power chair. That means sometimes we have to compromise sometimes a little between optimal placement for vision and access, but also not completely blocking someone's visual field.

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Mounting Assistive Technology to Wheelchairs, by Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS


michelle lange

Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS

Michelle Lange is an occupational therapist with over 35 years of experience and has been in private practice, Access to Independence, for over 15 years. She is a well-respected lecturer, both nationally and internationally, and has authored numerous texts, chapters, and articles. She is the co-editor of Seating and Wheeled Mobility: a clinical resource guide. She is the former NRRTS Continuing Education Curriculum Coordinator and Clinical Editor of NRRTS Directions magazine. Michelle is a RESNA Fellow and member of the Clinician Task Force. Michelle is a RESNA certified ATP and SMS.


Related Courses

Matching Products to Seating Needs
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar

Presenter

Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Course: #4099Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'excellent slides'   Read Reviews
Once the wheelchair seating assessment has been completed and seating interventions considered, it is time to match specific client needs to product interventions. This course presents various categories of seating systems. Seating systems, whether linear, contoured, or molded, are comprised of primary support surfaces, secondary support components, and materials. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA.

Dependent Mobility Intervention
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar

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Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Course: #4102Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Great course and well presented'   Read Reviews
Dependent mobility devices are not designed for self-propulsion. These include adaptive strollers, transport chairs, tilt-in space manual wheelchairs, reclining manual wheelchairs, and standard manual wheelchairs. For very small children, adaptive strollers are often required to meet positional and dependent mobility needs. Other dependent mobility bases, such as transport chairs and standard wheelchairs, are used for quick trips or for temporary use. Clients may also use a dependent mobility base as a backup to a power wheelchair. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA.

Augmented Mobility Intervention
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar

Presenter

Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Course: #4107Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'INFORMATIONAL'   Read Reviews
Augmented mobility is used with clients who require assistance in ambulation. This category of equipment includes walking canes, crutches, walkers, and gait trainers. Augmented mobility is used to prevent falls, increase mobility, and provide strengthening and dynamic weight-bearing. This course will systematically present each of these options with clinical indicators. This course is directly related to the practice of physical therapy and is therefore appropriate for the PT/PTA.

Augmentative And Alternative Communication: The Role Of Occupational And Physical Therapy
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar

Presenter

Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Course: #4619Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'It offers a good amount of information, clearly communicated in a relatively short amount of time'   Read Reviews
This course presents the role of an occupational or physical therapist in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) evaluation and treatment. The includes access, device placement, mounting, and integration with other assistive technologies.

Let’s Talk Augmentative And Alternative Communication: Preparing For The ATP Exam
Presented by Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Recorded Webinar

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Michelle Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Course: #4621Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'I am a PT interested in taking the ATP exam'   Read Reviews
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in the context of preparing for the ATP examination is presented in this course. The course will address terminology as well as the HAAT model to explore key features including access, display layout, optimizing access, programming, mounting, and integration of systems.

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