Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ability Expo Recap

We went to an Ability Expo in New Jersey recently.  Holy Smokes!  When I went to the website to add the link I realized the expo was a month ago.  Time is really flying by!

Attending the expo was a great experience for us!  Equally great was that we left Julia for a day with the grandparents and so we could "play" with all the cool items without catering to her boredom schedule.  Since Emma loves people watching she was game for staying as long as we wanted and was thrilled to try out various equipment.  For the first part of the day we had Emma's iPad hooked up to her chair with the articulating mounting arm from RJ Cooper and it generated a lot of interest and we eventually moved it to the car after lunch so we could move at a quicker pace through the Expo.  We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to chit chat with some great parents of young children and it was fun to compare equipment, notes, experiences from the different areas on the East Coast.  Meeting so many other parents is something I don't think we really expected but we really enjoyed.

The highlight for Emma was when she tried out a tricycle at the Freedom Concepts booth.  We were so surprised to have her actually start to pedal the bike on her own!  She pedaled twice and smiled the entire time.  The bike needed a couple options that they didn't have there and the representative took down the measurements and configuration she would need to send us a price quote.  We received the quote last week (Yikes!  They are expensive!) and we are working on getting some funding to buy it for Emma.  How cool would it be for Emma to have a bike to ride?  Just SOOOO cool in this Mommy's opinion!  We'll keep you posted.

Today I talked to Emma's PT about the tricycle and found out the hospital has the exact trike configuration that Emma would need.  When I told him how serious we were about trying to get one for Emma he brought out the bike for her to try out.  I was shocked he never mentioned the tricycle to us before and he said that it never occurred to him since we are working on so many things with Emma and he only gets her one day a week.  Hmmm.  Emma surprised everyone by pedaling around the therapy area for about 25 minutes and fussed excessively when her PT tried to move her to another activity that we decided to let her ride for another 5 minutes.  We had to help steer the bike an sometimes line it up a bit so her foot was at the "top" of the cycle so she could pedal but Emma did 85% of the work in cycling around and it blew almost everyone in the therapy area (they all know Emma well!) away.  Her PT even said he got goose bumps on how good she did.  That's my girl!  And because I'm sure you want to see it for yourself, here is a short video from today.  Enjoy!

There were loads of cars and vans in all kinds of configurations to accommodate a wide range of equipment.  We looked at the converted vans and decided that we aren't really ready to take that leap right now.  Our minivan is paid off and we want to get a lot more mileage out of it before we get a new one.  Besides, the power chair that Emma has is only a loaner for now and I'm not sure when we'll have to give it up.  Emma's progress with the chair isn't going as quickly as I imagined and we are still quite a bit away from meeting the criteria of moving in a set direction and stopping when directed that is required for our insurance to consider buying a power chair.  We learned about a lift that would help us transport a power chair and still use part of our third row seating.  We are going to take a look at one in the showroom sometime soon.  If anyone has any experiences with these lifts let me know the pros and cons!

We looked at a special tomato jogging stroller that was super easy to push.  Emma will need the special tomato liners for the jogger and that takes the price up a bit.  We are considering this jogger but want to try some other joggers first.  I think we might be able to use a Bob Revolution jogger for a couple of years and there is a good resale market on them for when we need to move to the bigger jogger.

We also looked at manual chairs and power chairs.  Emma tested out two power chairs - the C300 from Permobil and a sit to stand chair from Mobility 4 Kids.  Emma seemed to perk up quite a bit when the sit to stand chair was moved to the stand position and she could motor around.  Since there were a LOT of people and booths around the Expo we did not let Emma drive without help.  Although she would like laugh and laugh if she ran someone over, I can guarantee you that she would be the only one laughing :-)  It was just a quick test in this chair, but it made me wonder why other companies aren't making sit to stand power chairs?  Here is a brief video of her testing out the chair and driving in the stand position.

If you have an Ability Expo coming to your area I highly recommend spending a bit of time checking everything out.  It's so rare to have all this equipment and experts under the same roof and to compile all the testing and information we had in one day would likely take us ages through our local hospital or durable medical equipment provider.

5 Comments from readers:

Holly said...

We just planned our trip to Houston in August so that we can go to the expo. So glad you had good reviews of the event! Makes me even more excited to go.

Angela said...

okay that trycicle video made me super excited...look at her move her legs so well. Emma you are a total rockstar.

I love how she is such a people watcher...she only have focuses on what she is doing in the second video because she has to focus on the people around her.

JNR said...

It blows me away to see the huge strides Emma has made with her ability to control her upper body, head and neck. And these videos were probably taken after she had been up and around for hours. Kristina, it must be so fulfilling to see this progress that you have all worked so hard to accomplish. Well done. Joanne Regan, Florida

Sherry C said...

Love the bike and the show sounds great I'll have to see if they bring it to Toronto, Canada sounds great.

Kristina said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments! I love getting some comments :-)

Joann- Thanks so much for your comment! It made me smile, especially since I see how much progress Emma is making and it's blowing me away - so glad to know others are noticing it, too!