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Father praises charities’ free Bugzi wheelchair scheme for Manchester disabled toddler


T


WO-YEAR-OLD Olive, born with cerebral palsy, is enjoying her first


independent steps with a unique long-term loan of a free Bugzi powered wheelchair, provided by children’s disability charity MERU, following an assessment at North West Driving Assessment Service, accredited by the charity Driving Mobility. Her father, Rhys Corkwood, a


paediatric Occupational Therapist, says free provision of specialist equipment in this way is normally unheard of, with funding a massive issue in the world of disability. The MERU Bugzi is a small,


indoor powered wheelchair that can be used on any flat surface such as at home, nursery or school. Suitable for children up to approx. 6 years of age, it enables a child to move around independently, play and interact with friends and family, whilst also encouraging learning about cause and effect as they use the controls. Olive has quadrilateral or full body cerebral palsy


Olive Corkwood enjoying her independence in her Bugzi powered wheelchair


online to MERU for a Bugzi wheelchair, which Olive’s father states was a straightforward process. He also explained he could not fault his daughter’s assessment at North West Driving Assessment Service, part of the Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. NWDAS began offering Bugzi assessments as a new outreach service in 2019, which complements the Centre’s existing provision of driver, passenger and equipment assessments for the North West community. Rhys says: “I really valued how


uncomplicated this process was as life can be so busy for parents with disabled children – you feel you move from one appointment to the


next. Our MERU application was handled quickly and within a month


we attended NWDAS for an assessment. It was an additional bonus to have a Driving Mobility assessment centre locally in St Helens.” “The centre’s Occupational Therapist, Hilary,


following a complicated, premature birth. Low tone means she is unable to sit, stand or walk unaided and lives with tightness on one side of her body. Olive also has cochlear implants to overcome deafness and her condition is affecting her speech. Rhys says: “Olive had tried a small walker but was


unable to step, so my friend, a physiotherapist, recommended the Bugzi to me. I visited an event called Kidz to Adultz North with Olive to trial specialist equipment. North West Driving Assessment Service (NWDAS) was exhibiting alongside Driving Mobility and MERU, which provided a fantastic, hands-on opportunity to try out the Bugzi.” MERU manufactures the unique powered


wheelchair and charitable support enables them to provide free loans to families across the UK, following an application, assessment and a small refundable deposit. MERU works closely with several Driving Mobility centres across the UK, whose specialist staff can provide Bugzi assessments. Driving Mobility accredits a network of twenty independent organisations, many with satellite services, which provide professional information and assessments for safe and independent mobility. The Corkwood family from Manchester applied


32


explained the assessment service clearly and discussed Olive’s medical history and her physical abilities. Olive’s always happy to meet people and the staff were clearly interested in her, so it was a non- pressured, very personal experience. Olive drove the Bugzi, tried different hand controls and played with toys. She was totally at ease. I can’t rate the assessment centre highly enough. We even had a moving and handling assessment with our car.” “The Bugzi means Olive can move independently


for the first time. She practices navigation in a therapy space at home, whilst playing with her sister, 3-year- old Connie. We recently took the Bugzi to a church hall party. Olive loved it – a big, wide, open space where she could move freely and interact with other children. Of course, they all wanted to chase her which was delightful to watch.” For more information regarding North West


Driving Assessment Service visit: www.bridgewater.nhs.uk/northwestdrivingassess mentservice or call 01942 483713. For more information on MERU


or the Bugzi loan scheme visit www.meru.org.uk or email info@meru.org.uk


Ability Needs Magazine


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