Power Mobility

At what age should a child begin to use power mobility?

While there is no clear answer to exactly when to begin power mobility, multiple studies have demonstrated that children less than 2 years of age can learn to use power mobility

(Butler, Okamoto, & McKay, 1984; Jones, McEwen, & Hansen, 2003; Kangas, 1997; Zazula & Foulds, 1983). There is currently no tool to determine readiness for power mobility.

For young children who are not learning to walk at the same age as peers, power mobility affords opportunities to engage in more independent exploration of their environment, as compared with focusing exclusively on remediation of mobility difficulties, which can delay independent exploration. Power mobility allows all children who are unable to walk opportunities to express cognitive as well as social and adaptive abilities they do have and to develop new abilities. When not exhausted from efforts to move about their environment, children can see, hear, and touch elements around them. Exploration is important for:

  • Spatial searching
  • Spatial problem solving
  • Social and exploratory behaviors
  • Visual tracking

Gustafson, (1984); Yan, Thomas, & Downing, (1998).

Lynch, Ryu, Agrawal, & Galloway (2009) found that they could effectively teach power mobility to a 7 month old.

Does the use of power mobility prevent walking?

No, none of the research has substantiated a commonly held fear that children will regress in motor skills due to use of power mobility (Bottos, Bolcati, Sciuto, Ruggeri, & Feliciangeli, 2000; Jones, McEwen, & Hansen, 2003).

How do parents feel about power mobility?

Parents have reported: increased child independence and personal control, increased child engagement in meaningful life experiences, and positive effect on others’ attitudes toward the child (Berry, McLaurin, & Sparling, 1996; Wiart, Darrah, Cook, Hollis, & May, 2003). While there was often trepidation prior to beginning to use power mobility. Home & Ham (2003) found the majority of parents who responded to a questionnaire felt that power mobility increased confidence, motivation and happiness, and reduced frustration.