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September 18, 2008

HSC Patients Do It Themselves


We’ve always known HSC Pediatric Center to offer rehab and traditional care for special needs children, but they’ve also assembled an Assistive Technology (AT) team to provide relief for children previously deemed unable to use mobilizing equipment. We charged up Bunker Hill to see the latest technology in action.


Assistive Technology Team Coordinator Angie Kiger and 2-year-old Damonte demonstrate a motorized device nicknamed the Turtle. At most pediatric facilities, age 2 would be too young for assistive technology, but HSC has a rep for stretching prevailing limits (in a good way) because they excel at customization and positioning. Meaning, that chair is specifically crafted to Damonte’s stature ensuring he sits in the optimal position to move around, express himself, and be comfortable. Designing the best AT device is a joint effort between a Senior Recreation Therapist (Angie) and a team of professional therapists from other disciplines.


Later, the Bisnow Traffic Chopper captured Damonte getting pulled over following a brazen speeding attempt. Like all AT, the Turtle offers independence and better ways interact with others.


Another word on customizability: Notice Damonte uses a simple on/off switch (that Easy Button looking thing) rather than a joystick. Angie says other hospitals prematurely tell children they are not right for motorized devices without considering options such as the switch. She compared not having a customized device to the discomfort of “driving someone else’s car.” That might be true, but we’d gladly trade our 1987 Ford Taurus for Damonte’s hot ride. The above photo is him politely declining that offer.


David will be the beneficiary of the newest Turtle. On the left is Physical Therapist Jenn Baldridge who assists with his training. Jenn attended UMD while Angie is a Mason alum. Every reader who pays taxes: Pat yourself on the back for supporting our fine local public universities. Tax evaders: Send a SASE to Bisnow c/o IRS, so we can send you a certificate.

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