Caitlin achieves outdoor family fun with a spinal injury thanks to Recare provided powerchair 

Thanks to a new charity funded Recare powerchair, Caitlin Ball, 9, from Conisbrough with a spinal cord injury, is back outdoors sharing happy times with her family and friends.

Caitlin is a bright and accomplished young lady with T8 Spinal Cord Injury and Scoliosis. However, using a manual wheelchair to remain enabled was proving harder and harder, especially with low muscle tone and Caitlin’s shoulders taking all the strain of self-propulsion. Slopes and uneven ground were restricting her mobility, so Caitlin became desperate to discover a way of being independent and not needing someone to push her. Longer distances were impossible without mum or dad, who also were becoming increasingly tired when the family were out on their favourite country walks. Two years after the surgery that resulted in Caitlin’s injury, the family could still not find or afford the right solution; they were ‘simply going round in circles.’ When their Occupational Therapist from the Doncaster Royal Infirmary recommended Recare, the family were suddenly given the answer they needed.

Funding exactly the right powerchair for Caitlin was impossible for mum Sarah and dad Stephen. She needed a specialist chair with advanced postural support for her spinal condition and functionality that would empower Caitlin safely. They discussed these challenges with Ray from Recare, who suggested that the family consider applying for assistance from a children’s charity. The assisting charity provides grants for special equipment to meet the needs of disabled people in financial need, had worked with Ray before, and within days, a funding application had been approved. The potential of Caitlin owning a Permobil K300 PS Junior had become a reality. Sarah explains:

“With Ray’s experience working with so many charities, plus his unbelievable knowledge of products, Caitlin’s dream powerchair was now within our grasp. It was amazing. To think how long we had tried to find a way to solve our problem without luck, we were so close to all giving up. Then Recare came into our lives, and it was instantly sorted. We absolutely recommend Recare… we can’t speak highly enough of them. Amazing job, guys. Our lives have changed forever.”

The Ball’s hobby of family walks together is back on. Their local area of South Yorkshire is known for its beautiful countryside, including sites they regularly visit, such as Conisbrough Castle. Alongside Beau, the family Patterdale Terrier, Caitlin can now explore off-road without her family struggling with pushing a wheelchair. She can power up hills independently and keep up with her younger sister Olivia. They can play together without needing an adult, which is hugely beneficial for the family’s mental health and well-being. 

Sarah recommends Recare 100% and remarks about the vast improvement she has seen in her daughter’s positivity and belief:

“Caitlin absolutely loves her Permobil; she is so proud to show it off all the time. ‘Look at my chair, look at what it does!’ she tells everyone. With the seat lift, she can raise and lower herself, which is so handy for reaching things, especially out of the fridge. Her powerchair has opened up many little ways she can help herself; it’s not just about getting from A to B. Plus, if she’s tired, she can recline and rest without asking us to transfer her out and into bed. Add the USB socket for plugging in her iPad; Caitlin couldn’t wish for a more perfect powerchair.”

Looking to the future, Caitlin will soon be taking her Permobil to school so she can enjoy even more inclusion and freedom. As her Permobil is crash tested, it can be transported in an accessible mini-bus or WAV, so reverting to her manual wheelchair will not be needed as much. Her family are applying for a Motability vehicle, meaning mum and dad will not need to manually lift Caitlin in and out of the car. She can simply drive in the back and be secured without her parents risking a back injury. When Caitlin gets to the playground or classroom, the need for support staff to push her around will be no more – Caitlin will be free to move at the same pace as her peers and is sure to go from strength to strength.