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What Is Adaptive Equipment & Does My Child Need It?

If your child has any aspect of learning that makes life more challenging compared to a more typical child, then adaptive equipment may be able to help.  Generally speaking, adaptive equipment is meant to extend strategies learned in therapy (PT, OT, Speech, etc.) into a child’s daily life. Examples might include some of the following:

Physical Therapy:

Wheelchair, walker, orthotics, adapted car seats, standers, adapted strollers

Occupational Therapy:

Adapted potty or shower chairs, sensory needs, classroom chairs, pressure vests

Speech Therapy:

Communication devices, hearing aid referrals

This is a very short list of some examples; there are certainly many more in each discipline. Each child has very individual needs which are addressed by the parent and therapist, as well as the child when appropriate.

How do you get adaptive equipment for your child?

If your therapist sees a need that could be helped with some adaptive equipment, they will speak with you, explaining how it can help. Always ask as may questions as you can think of to help understand how and why it will be helpful

If you as a parent think of a need your child has that could be helped with some specialized equipment, simply talk to your therapist about it to see if it is appropriate. Parents learn a lot from talking to other parents; sometimes those who have had similar experiences can offer the best advice on what helped them and what might help you and your child. Just let us know what you’ve heard about and we’ll see if it would work for your child.

If you and your child’s therapist decide that adaptive equipment would be helpful, your therapist will help you through the process which typically includes the following:

  • Deciding on what is needed.
  • Consultation with a specialty/DME (durable medical equipment) provider of the particular equipment needed (parent and therapist are usually both present).
  • A prescription will be obtained from your child’s physician (by DME provider or therapist).
  • Your child’s therapist will write a LMN (letter of medical necessity) and provide this to the DME provider.
  • DME provider will complete the process, submitting appropriate insurance information, working with both you and the therapist for any additional questions or clarifications throughout the process.

How long does it take to get adaptive equipment?

It can be very time consuming in some cases. Following the consultation process and obtaining all appropriate paperwork, the equipment must be approved by your insurance.  If there are multiple insurance sources available to your child, it will likely take longer to process. The more complex or specialized the equipment is, the longer it usually takes. A new walker or pressure vest might only take a couple of weeks. A wheelchair might take several months.

What if my child doesn’t currently need any ongoing therapy but does need some adaptive equipment?

We can still help out! Simply contact your pediatrician and obtain a prescription for the type of equipment you think your child could use. Then contact one of our patient coordinators to see which discipline would be the best fit to help you through this process.

APT is here to help all children grow and learn in a supported and nurturing environment.  Assisting families to find the most appropriate adaptive equipment available is just one way we help our patients achieve optimal independence at home, school and in the community.  Please contact us if you think we can help you and your child.

– Cathy Stewart, Physical Therapist