Occupational Therapy for Wheelchair Scripting: What, How, Why?

occupational therapy for wheelchair scripting involves data collection

If you need a wheelchair for the first time or you haven’t worked with an occupational therapy clinician before it can be hard to know what to look for and what to expect. A wheelchair, especially a custom one that matches your body, lifestyle and environment in every way, is a big investment. A wheelchair script will help you get what you really need.

Occupational therapy (OT) is a key component of your journey to getting the appropriate wheelchair or mobility equipment. Working with the right occupational therapist means you won’t waste time or money. So what’s involved in the process and what can you expect?

Find out about an occupational therapy wheelchair scripting assessment and more in this article.

Occupational therapy in Australia

In Australia, we use the international guidelines for occupational therapy.  Ideally the clinician will also consider the international classification for function in disability, the world health organization classification, practice-based evidence and the client’s experience.

Find out more about how occupational therapy in Australia is regulated and how a clinicians find core area of expertise. This will come in handy when looking for an occupational therapist to suit your needs.

occupational therapy clinician conducts wheelchair assessment
International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)

Under the ICF mentioned above, the occupational therapist must define the following parameters:

  • Define a person’s function based on bio-psychosocial model of health
  • Recognise complex interaction of a person’s health condition (disease, disorder and injury)
  • Recognise the contextual factors of the external environment, including:
    1. Social attitudes
    2. Architectural barriers and terrain
    3. Legal and social structures
    4. Personal factors like gender, age, coping style, character, as well as past and current experience

Practice based evidence plays a role in OT

Clinicians talk about evidence based practice being the pinnacle. However, if it hasn’t been researched and published in a report in a medical journal, it’s safer not to do it. Evidence-based practice means considering the evidence, especially your own experience as the occupational therapist.

Ideally, the occupational therapist uses relevant external evidence in conjunction with the client’s lived experience. Because the client’s experience will be very important in determining what’s going to be the most suitable equipment.

The assessment outlined earlier will have some aspects that are tailored to wheelchair scripting. For example, your occupational therapist needs to have a sound understanding of how to configure the wheelchair. And they need to also understand the chair’s anatomy.

Read about how to find the right occupational therapist for the first time.

environment plays a big role in occupational therapy for wheelchair scripting

Occupational therapy wheelchair assessment considerations

During the postural assessment and supine assessments the occupational therapist uses their hands to simulate the posture and the positions the client will need. These assessments help the OT to identify the equipment parameters.

Here are some considerations that your occupational therapist will be looking at during the wheelchair assessment:

DisabilityFunctionFolding or rigid
EnvironmentRear wheelsFoot propulsion
TransportBrakesPower Assist
Client preferenceCastorsCentre of gravity
Frame materialPosture and seatingGrowth
FundingCarer networkAfter sales support
Attendant or self-propelledTransfersAesthetics

Disability specific OT considerations

Disability specific considerations for wheelchair scripting are a must. Here are the following focus areas that an occupational therapist will look at:

  • Type and progress of the condition
  • Hours spent in the wheelchair
  • Activities performed in the wheelchair
  • Trunk control and ability to weight shift
  • Environment (climate, terrain, temperature)
  • Living arrangements (carer or alone)
  • Past history of pressure sores
  • Body build and gender of the client
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Wheelchair features
  • Emotional barriers

These key elements can help you adjust to a wheelchair after a stroke, spinal chord injury or other mobility issue.

occupational therapy for wheelchair scripting

Matching you with the best supplier

An occupational therapist will need to match you with the best equipment company. This means balancing your needs with your goals.

The occupational therapist will send these parameters to the supplier. They will ensure the wheelchair is the right type and dimensions for your body. They can then get the supplier to configure it for when you arrive so it’s ready for you to test it out. This way you get an accurate trial.

Unfortunately suppliers are often brought in too early during assessments. This can be confusing and often means more back and forth for the client who ends up trying out unnecessary wheelchair options.

Sometimes you have to settle for a less than ideal supplier if you need them to be close to where you live. For example, let’s say you need access to immediate support for your disability converted vehicle in case of a breakdown. Or you could choose the ultimate supplier for ongoing support, even though they’re a good three hours away.

Other occupational therapy key points include how long your assessments should be and who needs to be involved. Find out all this and more in our article on what to expect from your assistive tech occupational therapy assessment.

Protecting your custom wheelchair

If you’ve worked with an occupational therapist to get the right custom wheelchair to suit your needs, you’ll know it takes time and money to get the ideal solution. Once you have your custom wheelchair you don’t want to be without it for any longer than you need to if it breaks, gets damaged in your car, or is stolen.

This is why getting a wheelchair insurance plan to help cover these costs and more, getting your chair back on track quickly, can be so invaluable. That’s where Blue Badge Insurance comes in. With us you can also get up to 25% off car insurance for wheelchair accessible vehicles and disability converted cars.

Get a quote today; it’s easy and reliable. Click below to find out more.

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