Zippy Wheels For Toddlers With Disabilities8 Mar 2012
Babies reach different milestones at various ages, and no two babies are the same. Depending on whether they are ready or not, they will gain strength, and learn how to make their own way around, either through army crawling, shuffling along on their bottoms, and finally, when they master it, regular crawling. This crawling will eventually progress into weight baring, wobbly walking, with lots of falling over, and then ends in regular walking and finally, into running.
For children with disabilities however, this progression can be rapidly slowed, due to physical impairments. From a very young age, I was known to get around by crawling on my bottom, or as we called it, ‘bottom shuffling'. I did this up until I was about twelve years old. Although I used a walking frame from around the age of five, I didn't take my first completely independent steps until around eleven or twelve years of age.
Not that it's affected me as an adult, but I'm sure, as a child, not being as independent as my peers would've posed some problems for me, when it came to me keeping up with my little friends during play dates and at pre-school. Being able to keep up with them would have probably allowed me to be more involved in activities etc.
Unfortunately, when I was younger, there weren't really any safe mobility devices to assist with very young children with disabilities. And with me having brittle bones, I was quite often kept away from other, more active children, to avoid any unnecessary accidents that could've wound me up in hospital, followed by weeks in plaster.
These days however, wheelchairs can be made so tiny, that even the most petite child could fit into them. They can be very expensive though, and with growing children, they would most likely outgrow it before they got their monies worth out of it, so it probably wouldn't be a viable option. Thankfully though, a family in Iowa, in the US, wanted to come up with some options for a mobility device for their son Zachary, who was born with Spina Bifida.
Zachary has some feeling in his hips, but is unable to move his legs, and at one and a half years of age, his parents longed for him to be able to experience playtime, and exploration like every other child, so together with an engineer, a family friend began working away, and invented the ZipZac Chair.
The ZipZac chair simply appears to be a Bumbo chair on wheels. The Bumbo chair is an award winning baby seat, made out of low density foam that is used to help assist babies to gain strength to sit up on their own, the Bumbo also provides a safe extra set of hands for parents, so they can leave their baby seated, without having to worry about them being in danger while they momentarily step away.
It looks as if the Bumbo chair has been secured onto a flat, rectangular base, which sits on top of four small castor wheels at either end, with two larger wheels, in the middle of the wood, which allows the child to propel the chair along independently. The chair is set at a relatively low level in comparison to the ground, it allows children to move around, unassisted, and still be able to reach objects on the floor.
Zachery's parents, DeeAnn and Jason, have definitely seen the benefit of allowing their son to experience a new level of independence. The ZipZac chair has allowed Zachery to be able to move independently, from room to room, carry his toys, follow his parents around the house, and even beat them to the door, to see who's there, when visitors arrive.
The ZipZac is essentially designed for children from one to three years of age, but a larger version called the ZipZac II has been produced, which caters for children up to five years of age. At the moment, the ZipZac is at a lower than usual price, of $US800, this offer is only temporary however, and the regular price is $US1400.
I personally think this invention is fantastic, and will give independence to so many young children who would otherwise be limited to what activities they could participate in. The ZipZac chair would be a great alternative to placing children in strollers or carrying them everywhere, when they reach ‘regular walking age'. It would also provide them with the skills to be able to control an actual wheelchair, if they do need to transition into one, at a more suitable age.
If you'd like more information on the ZipZac chair, or you'd like to purchase one, please visit www.myzipzac.com - you can also 'Like' ZipZac's page on Facebook! Just Google ZipZac on Facebook, or copy and past this link into your web browser - www.facebook.com/pages/zipzac/203871916315034