One of the young people here at Underley Garden has been doing really well at walking to school, with the help of a weighted shopping trolley.
This young man required the assistance of two staff (one on each side), whom he would lean on and hold onto in order to maintain an upright posture when walking along. When out in the community and for longer distances; he needs to use a wheel chair.
We had already tried more typical equipment such as a rollator, for the short walk to school; to see if this would help him to walk without leaning on staff. However the rollator was too flimsy and he did not take to it.
This young man has significant difficulties processing and responding to sensory input. To explain a bit more about what this means; even though we generally think of there being 5 senses; there are many more, including our sense of proprioception.
This is our sense of body awareness and where we think our bodies are in space and in relation to the environment around us. Proprioceptive input is also really calming and organising for the nervous system and helps us to keep our arousal levels balanced. Think psychical activity and how this makes us feel afterwards! This young man has poor proprioceptive sensory input, which means that he finds it difficult to know where his body is in space; we thought that pushing something really heavy might give him more sensation about this and also help to calm and organise his arousal level.
This is where the trolley came in. We put several heavy bricks in it to make it harder to push. He took to the trolley straight away, putting all his school bags and things for the day in it. Although currently he still requires the two staff there to guide his hands to the trolley bar; he is walking more upright and with less physical support (i.e. not leaning on staff). We all hope that he might be able to push the trolley independently as time goes on.
Here are some pictures of him pushing the trolley on the first day he used it. You’ll notice he is wearing a special vest – this is a Protac vest that gives him a tight, compressed feeling; again to give him more of the proprioceptive and tactile input, he needs.
He continues to happily push the trolley back and forth from school on his morning and afternoon walks.
A Big Thank you to Booths Kirkby Lonsdale, for lending us the trolley and helping us to trial a simple but effective intervention for this young man; it’s made a difference to his and staff’s daily lives. Felix (manager) at Booths was genuinely interested and willing to help, when asked if we could borrow a trolley. The trolley is now on a long term loan to us, free of charge, so thank you again to Booths, we really appreciate it!
J.Heath, Occupational Therapist 22.05.18