Safe travel

Brad King demonstrated the two types of wheelchair securements utilized by Matheny.

Passengers seated in wheelchairs in a moving vehicle are 45 times more likely to be injured in a crash than someone in a regular seat. That’s why the way a wheelchair is secured is critically important. That was the take-home message from a session on wheelchair safety during a School Choice night held by Matheny for families of our students and patients. The session was presented by Brad King, Matheny director of transportation; John Reck, director of assistive technology; and Cindy LaBar, director of physical therapy.

King emphasized that it’s very important that families, bus drivers and operators of bus companies are all properly educated in wheelchair safety. “Every wheelchair,” he said, “should be secured using four wheelchair tie downs, and the individual should be secured with a properly fitting vehicle-mounted lap and shoulder belt.”

Reck pointed out that many injuries of passengers in wheelchairs are not the result of crashes. They are caused by things such as abrupt turning maneuvers or hard braking.

Wheelchair wash

Volunteers Sam Dillard, left, and his brother Henry of Oldwick, NJ.

It’s extremely important to keep wheelchairs clean, and with that in mind, Matheny held its first ever Wheelchair Wash recently. Thirty-five wheelchairs used by Matheny students were cleaned by staff members with the help of volunteers from the community.

The project was organized by Kim Siara, acting director of occupational therapy, who urged everyone to, “work together to keep our residents’ wheelchairs spiffy!”

Volunteer Kim Collichio of Mountainside, NJ.

Based on its success, another Wheelchair Wash is being planned for those used by adult patients.


An ‘awesome’ experience

FHCD student Cece Gulbrandsen plays adapted basketball.

“I thought this was awesome!” That’s how one fourth grader at the Far Hills Country Day School described the recent visit by Matheny students and staff to the phys ed class at the independent day school in Far Hills, NJ. The students played adapted basketball, rode in both manual and power wheelchairs and tried out special scooters.

It was part of a gym class that included seven students from Matheny along with therapists and teachers. The objective of the program is to encourage interaction between the two groups of students, enabling them to compete in sports as peers.

During a question-and-answer session following the class, the FHCDS students disagreed about which activity was most difficult. One student said, “The electric [power] wheelchair was hardest for me because I couldn’t figure out how to use the joystick.” But other students felt the adapted version of basketball was trickier.

FHCD students Ivan Scotto, left, and Peter Gajewski, right, with Matheny student Niara Holmes.