Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Power/Wheels: Mobility Technology Provision, Early Use, and the Experiences of Children and Families
by Feldner, Heather Ann, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, 2016, 342; 10300569
Abstract (Summary)

Mobility, in some form or another, drives our exploration of, and participation in, the world around us. Increasingly, scholars and rehabilitation professionals are recognizing mobility as a basic human right, and endorsing the efficacy of early powered mobility experiences for children with mobility impairments in order to foster independence, promote socialization with peers, and facilitate participation in family and community life. However, the phenomenon of mobility and the relationship between mobility and technology provision, when considered in the context of lived experiences of children with mobility impairments and their families, is complex and understudied. Perceptions of these experiences from children’s own points of view are especially limited. Since family experiences with mobility and mobility devices are largely driven by the mobility industry, the relationship between family and industry must also be explored; to date, little is known about the direct and indirect influences of the powered mobility industry on the experiences of children and families.

Traditional powered mobility technology provision practices most often take place during a specialty seating and positioning clinic, where a child is evaluated and fit for a powered wheelchair. Recently, however, one alternative model of provision has emerged, taking place in small groups, or in community workshop settings with volunteers and therapists, where modifications are made to commercially available powered ride-on toy cars based on the child’s needs.

Using an ethnographic case study approach, data was collected across several months of engagement with two children who received powered mobility devices, and their families. One child received a powered wheelchair, and one child received a modified-ride on car. Additional data was collected across interviews with several powered mobility industry and toy industry informants. Methodologies were employed from qualitative and participatory action research traditions, and included in-depth semi-structured interviews, field observations, document analysis, and a photovoice narrative project. The findings from these encounters revealed four major themes: Dys/Function of Mobility Technology; Daily Life, Play, and Participation; Emerging Self/Advocacy; and Complex Family/Industry Interplay. Across these themes, each family’s perceptions were grounded in three constructs that defined what the mobility technology provision process was ultimately about: Participation, Expectation, and Identity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fujiura, Glenn
Commitee: Fujiura, Glenn T., Galloway, James Cole, Girolami, Gay, Hammel, Joy, Sposato, Brenda
School: University of Illinois at Chicago
Department: Disability and Human Development
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Occupational Therapy, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Assistive technology, Child and family experiences, Child participation, Children with disabilities, Mobility technology provision, Participatory action research, Powered mobility, Powered mobility industry, Qualitative analysis
Publication Number: 10300569
ISBN: 978-1-369-43196-4
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