The main part of Ethan’s Diplegic Cerebral Palsy is that he is unable – yet – to walk. We found that once Theo was a confident walker he would no longer go in a buggy – which suited us – so we went from a double buggy to a single buggy for Ethan to use when out-and-about. In theory the solution worked well, however the reality was that Ethan hated it. Once in the buggy he would become disinterested in his surroundings which was heart breaking – especially as he’s a quieter boy already. So Mark and I took to the internet to see what alternatives were available. The NHS does not consider a child below the age of 5 as requiring a motorised wheelchair – which meant we were going to have to look further afield. During our searching we found Designability who have made the incredible Wizzy Bug.
The first generation Wizzy Bugs were made in the 1990’s when they made and sold 125 before the moulds required significant investment to replace them. This gave an opportunity to redesign them and so it was modified to be more in line with how they are today!
(Image courtesy of the Designability website)
The Wizzy Bug is offered to families of children with conditions such as CP on a loan basis with a deposit of £200 which is returned when the Wizzy is given back to them.
We were initially dismissive of the Wizzy Bug as we felt that it was almost a step too close to Ethan using a wheel chair (he’s only two!), which I think for any parent is a very difficult concept to get their head around. Then by chance we met another family at one of our Hydrotherapy sessions whose little boy uses one – and hearing how it had enabled him to have a sense of independence which we were so desperately seeking for Ethan made us re-think. After our initial enquiry to Designability we were sent forms for our Occupational Therapist to complete and – a little while later – we were accepted! After waiting what felt like forever for a Wizzy to become available we all went along to Bath to get Ethan’s Wizzy Bug. The team we met were lovely and we were soon happy with how it all worked and Ethan had his first set of wheels!
Ethan in his Wizzy Bug!
Ethan is quite a laid back chap by nature and has got quite used to the parental controls being used by Mark or myself to get out and about. Amongst our efforts we have tried everything (including bribing!); we have tried changing the side that the joystick controls sit in case Ethan has a preference to one side over the other but so far he seems to have little interest in controlling it himself. We have been buying joystick controlled toys such as cars – also with little interest shown! Yet anything button controlled he adores. We purchased a 6V childrens quad bike which is operated by a single button on the right handlebar which he took to immediately and adores using. Even though it has little in the way of back support Ethan is so stable using it in terms of balance! Mark is making a series of “micro skills” toys for Ethan to learn (along with other skills) that using a joystick is fun and to hopefully rule out any sensory issues Ethan may have with having something in the palm of his hand.
We are not giving up on Ethan enjoying using the Wizzy Bug – it is an amazing piece of equipment that has the potential to make such a difference to so many young lives! Ethan is exceptionally smart when he wants to do something! We just have to figure out just what will make the ‘Bug interesting to him (but we’ll persevere!).