A correctly proportioned ladder can help children with cerebral palsy such as four-year-old Matthew to stand up independently, to assist with activities that are easier to do standing up, and to move from a standing to seated position and vice versa.
It is particularly helpful if the ladder is movable rather than attached to a wall, as it can be used in a variety of ways without difficulty. TAD has made a variety of portable ladders for individual children and for therapy centres.
The Spastic Centre at Prairiewood provides assessment, education and therapy for children with CP, and the ladders are used constantly by a number of the children in attendance. However, the children are not all the same height, which meant that some of them were not able to look over the top of a fixed-height ladder.
The centre therefore asked TAD to make a ladder that was height-adjustable. Volunteer George Ayling made a light but strong ladder using 40x29mm pine and 19mm dowels for the rungs.
It consists of two outer uprights and an inner sliding section that moves in a slot in the outer uprights, and is fixed with tri-nuts. The outer uprights have one rung fixed at 100mm from the ground, and the inner section has four rungs at 100mm spacings.
The outer uprights are based on 700mm long ‘skis’ which keep the ladder very stable and make it easy to move around. They also have rounded tops and foam ‘shoulder pads’ to make sure that the children do not injure themselves if they bump into them.
Matthew uses the ladder at the centre, and also has one at home. It enables him to do more things for himself, such as getting out of his wheelchair and assisting his mother when he is getting dressed. He can also use the ladder to stand or sit and play with his twin brother Adam.