By Alexis Snyder | Sara, age 12, is a long time Convaid user. She has a metabolic disorder that causes low muscle tone and fatigue, and although she can walk she tires quickly. Her Convaid EZ Rider helps her to get around for longer distances and to conserve energy. Her disorder also causes problems with tolerating heat, and thanks Convaid’s easily attachable sun canopy she can stay out of the sun.

When out and about with Sara’s Convaid, our family often gets stopped by other families who want to know what type of chair she has and where and how they can get one. The answer is simple. After we fill them in on everything Convaid, we let people know that they can either ask their doctor or therapist, who can help with the insurance process and set them up with a seating specialist in their area. Sara has been so fortunate over the years to have a terrific team of people supporting her who ensure her that mobility needs are met. That said, several years ago when Sara was still small enough to use a stroller but began to outgrow it, we too were at loss for what to do next. We turned to our long time physical therapist from Franciscan Hospital for Children, Carrie Barlow PT, PCS. Carrie made an appointment for Sara at a seating clinic that takes place monthly at Franciscan. It was through this seating clinic where we were first introduced to Sandro Leone ATP, an assistive technology professional from National Seating and Mobility. We have worked with this dynamic duo several times over the years to obtain wheelchairs for Sara as she outgrows them overtime. Carrie is central to the whole process by communicating Sara’s needs during the seating clinic and writing a letter of medical necessity for insurance.

Carrie states that,

“One of my biggest goals as a PT is to make sure children can move freely and easily in all kinds of environments. Sometimes that means using a mobility device, like a Convaid. I want the device to be comfortable and to meet the child’s positioning needs. I want the child to be the center of attention, not hidden behind technology. The device has to be easy for families to use, not only when she is sitting in it but also when getting it in and out of a car. Working together with the family, the child and the ATP, we can come up with recommendations that meet everyone’s needs.”

little-sara-water-therapy-070515Sandro listens to the information provided from both Carrie and our family to determine what wheelchair might best meet Sara’s needs. Based on this information Sandro then brings several different style chairs to the appointment for Sara to “test drive” and takes body measurements to ensure the proper fit when ordering. Several years back when we first met Sandro he introduced Sara to the Convaid Cruiser. Sara fell in love with the comfortable and supportive chair and has been a Convaid user ever since. Sandro is a pleasure to work with. He is always smiling and making the kids in the clinic comfortable. After more than 30 years supplying durable medical equipment for customers with special needs he knows his products well and is valuable asset to finding the right chair.

When asked what being an ATP means to him, Sandro, who describes himself as not being a man on many words, simply said,

“My best strength is listening to family’s and customers’ goals with compassion and respect.”

This was especially true when we most recently worked with Sandro. Not only was Sara outgrowing the size of her Convaid Cruiser but she was also outgrowing the stroller style design of the chair. And while she needed a new chair due to growth she was also eager to explore the choices of more traditional style wheelchairs. Originally thinking we would not be able to get away from the stroller look with a Convaid, we asked Sandro to bring in some other wheelchairs for Sara to try out. When things did work quite as we expected we decided that rather than try and reinvent the wheel there must be an option that will work from Convaid.

Indeed there was and Sandro was patient, supportive and instrumental in helping Sara, recalling:

“At first Sara wanted to pursue a lightweight manual folding chair with some modifications including a high back, canopy and other basic accessories. The chair fit seemed good, and at first Sara seemed to like it and was ready to start using it, but the canopy attachment, which was custom made, was not working well at all. It did not cover her body to protect her from the sun rays, and was very difficult to attach and detach. Additionally the back height needed was difficult to achieve without a custom back and headrest that was more intricate than Sara needed. She had the chair for a very short period of time when the family contacted me to see what could be done. After trying some different options we decided to go with the Convaid EZ Rider and it seems that was the best decision because it is working for the customer and family. The other manufacturer was able to take back the chair for credit and we had to resubmit to insurance to notify them of the changes made. It was a long process but well worth it in the end.”

People say that it takes a village, but sometimes it just takes a couple of dedicated people, like Carrie and Sandro, who sincerely enjoy helping others and help make the journey down life’s sometimes rough road a little less bumpy. Especially with the terrific products available from Convaid.

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