New wheels give kids with disabilities a fun way to get around

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Half-a-dozen Hampton Roads tots are on the move thanks to one company’s creativity.

NuMotion provides complex rehab technology – things like wheelchairs, power mobility and medical supplies. Thursday in Chesapeake they provided a little fun for the kids – in the form of adaptive Power Wheels.

The kids ranged in ages from two to five. They are treated by occupational therapists at either Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters or the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center. They have a varying degree of mobility issues, but all of the kids have difficulty moving their feet. So driving a traditional Power Wheels car would normally not be possible.

“I just push the button and it goes,” explains four-year-old Michel Anderson. She was born with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. She gets around at home with a wheelchair or a walker. Now, she can get around outside just like the other kids.

Photos: Kids Get Modified Cars at CHKD

“It’s going to be a real joy to see her with other kids doing the same things, and it doesn’t make her feel like ‘mommy I can’t do this’ because she can do anything,” explains Michael’s mother Lasontra Anderson.

Each car has a button on the steering wheel to give the car power, once the children stop pressing, the car stops. Depending on their needs, the cars are also outfitted with PVC pipe bracing covered with pool noodles, or back rests made out of swimming kick boards, as well as a variety of safety harnesses.

The car plus the adaptive materials cost around $170 according to Tony Leo, with NuMotion.

“They potentially may need a power wheelchair later in their life so we’re teaching them the skills that they need to operate one in the community, in the home, or even at school,” Leo says.

NuMotion donated the cars at the event. They also spent the morning demonstrating how to retrofit Power Wheels to occupational and physical therapists across the area – so they can use that knowledge to help more patients.

Beth Beach, CHKD’s adaptive seating clinic director says the car is just another way to get kids up and out – exploring their world. She says early mobility is key to success.

“They start to develop because they’re able to touch things, able to move, able to explore, able to get in trouble, like tough something that’s hot or touch something that’s broken so those are the things that we kind of want to encourage,” says Beach.