Putting Your Needs First
Friendly Wheels, Issue 53
Featuring Amigo owner Karen Wempen
Finding the right mobility equipment for you is essential to maintaining your health, activity level and independence.
Everyone with limited mobility has different needs, abilities and lifestyles. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all mobility equipment — each person must be evaluated as an individual, regardless of their disability.
While careful diagnosis on the behalf of your doctor or provider is key, it is important to be an informed consumer and know what you’re looking for when it comes to mobility equipment.
Karen Wempen, who has cerebral palsy and has been an Amigo owner for more than 25 years, is a woman who knows what she wants when it comes to mobility! She is the proud owner of a highly customized Amigo RTX Junior. Karen loves to travel (her greatest traveling challenge was a trip to Egypt!), so it is important for her to have a lightweight unit that her caregivers can manage easily.
The Amigo customization department used lightweight aluminum for the Amigo platform and power seat lift post, as well as lithium-ion batteries to reduce the weight of the unit. Karen’s Amigo also has a 3 inch shorter platform and a smaller seat to comfortably accommodate her small frame.
Karen Wempen after winning her first social security appeals case!
Public advocacy is a very important part of maintaining the rights of people with disabilities. UsersFirst, a program of the United Spinal Association, advocates for greater access to appropriate wheelchairs, mobility devices and seating systems for people with disabilities. The organization believes that proper mobility equipment and seating are fundamental elements in maintaining health, quality of life and independence.
Joe Thieme, an ATP certified seating specialist who travels Michigan for the Amigo Mobility Centers to help people better their mobility equipment with custom seating arrangements, is also passionate about providing the right mobility equipment for each individual.
“My three priorities when fitting someone for mobility equipment are function, comfort and appearance. I want you to feel good, look good and be able to safely handle all the activities your daily life requires,” Thieme said. When asked to determine the most important consideration when choosing mobility equipment, Thieme said, “Seating is key — without proper seating, it is very easy to fall into an unsafe or uncomfortable posture.”
Unsure of what type of seating is best for you? To help you get started, UsersFirst created a Wheelchair Checklist to guide you through the overwhelming process that determines access to mobility equipment. The checklist helps you organize necessary information to help your clinician or provider determine your needs and gives a quick overview of your activity level, priorities and medical history.
UsersFirst also works to challenge policies that limit opportunities for people with disabilities and encourages them to get involved and become their own disability advocate.
UsersFirst states, “We are all about demanding more choices as consumers and expressing our individual abilities. By joining the UsersFirst Movement, you’re becoming an important part of a community of activists just as passionate as you are about your lifestyle and independence.”
To learn more about UsersFirst, visit their website.