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Care, innovation, education and research

news item News Monday, June 24, 2019 Monday, June 24, 2019 12:29 PM - Monday, June 24, 2019 12:29 PM

Scott Jerome presents at 35th International Seating Symposium

Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital, a center of excellence for early mobility

When Scott Jerome, MPT, traveled to the University of Pittsburgh recently for the 35th International Seating Symposium, he was no mere spectator. Jerome went not only to learn from his industry peers, but to formally present and champion a program near and dear to his heart – the special needs car seat clinic at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City.   

Armed with his breakout session presentation titled Positioning ALL Children for Safe Transport, he urged 50 industry colleagues – including physical therapists, occupational therapists, assistive technology professionals, vendors and technicians – to make special needs car seats a priority in their spheres of influence.

Safe transport for all

Through routine seating appointments, staff members in the wheelchair and seating department identified a need for better car seat options for children with special needs. The staff worked hard to ensure hundreds of children move safely and comfortably in their mobility devices. But what about traveling between their home and the hospital for those appointments?

“It is our responsibility as clinicians to identify safe transport for children,” said Jerome.

Citing 2016 research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Jerome explains that if a child is safely secured, there is a 50% less chance of serious injury or death.

“Equate it to a pill for heart disease," said Jerome. “If we had a pill to ward off heart disease at a 50% success rate, we’d all take it.”

All it took was identifying this need for the hospital’s patient population to inspire an entirely new program. The special needs car seat clinic was born in 2016. Ever since, increasing numbers of staff have obtained certifications to help in this area.

The hospital’s clinic now has six car-seat certified specialists, including an administrative executive, two therapists, two assistive technology professionals and a technician.

“Our mission really allows us to devote the time necessary to developing these wrap-around services to help children in a holistic way,” said Jerome.

Center of excellence

Scott’s presentation on the need for special needs car seats is part of a legacy of leading at the International Seating Symposium. Colleague Ken Kozole, OTR/L, BSME, ATP, frequently attends this conference and has presented on topics ranging from new innovations in manual and power mobility to wheelchair care and maintenance.

The national symposium brings together all the major players in seating and mobility. Jerome and Kozole left the conference with a feeling of pride and optimism.

“We really are a center of excellence here with regard to early mobility,” Jerome said.

Kozole, who has the benefit of perspective, having seen this industry evolve over the decades, believes Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City is a true leader in this space.

“We are familiar with many of the things we’re seeing at these conferences and are always looking for new ways in which to improve our program,” said Kozole.

Innovation meets needs

Innovation coming out of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City is impressive. In the past three years alone, we’ve seen the beach wheelchair rental program, early power mobility Baby Bug, removable one-arm drive (coming soon), Halloween costume clinic and special needs car seat clinic.

The secret? Kozole credits having the time and space needed to develop wraparound care and innovate in ways he would not be able to elsewhere.

“Here, it’s standard of care,” said Kozole.

Jerome and Kozole were encouraged to see even the biggest names in wheelchair manufacturing giving priority to early mobility at the symposium. Across the board, early mobility was the theme, and Jerome and Kozole got a sneak peek at the Explorer Mini – a new early mobility chair. Our local Salt Lake City team took keen interest in the chair, as they’re also working on an early mobility prototype that takes a bit of a different approach.

Wanting kids to flourish

A popular saying in the wheelchair and seating department is, “The more trouble a kid gets into, the better job we’re doing.”

“We’re all about anything we can do to help a kid be a kid,” said Kozole.

In thinking about their experience at the symposium, and their approach to their work at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Jerome and Kozole are both dedicated to working with families on reaching the earliest and most functional mobility for their child.

“Here in seating, we hope to allow a child to closely mirror developmental millstones,” said Kozole. “We want children to meet these milestones with their own abilities, or if that’s not possible, with the help of a piece of equipment.”

For many families, a child walking on their own is the end goal, but for Jerome, Kozole and everyone in the department, it is a privilege to help shape families’ definition of walking, when that’s just not physically possible for a child. They are full of stories of children whose confidence has been boosted with just the right chair.

“Sometimes, walking is not the end all, be all,” said Kozole. “I’d like to see children use their energy on the soccer field, not getting to the soccer field.”

“I define walking in so many different ways now,” said Jerome.

Jerome presenting