Response to Last Month's Column on Use of Power Mobility Devices
In last month's column, I discussed the growing use of power mobility devices in the U.S. and the need to offset any reduction in energy expenditure that might be associated with the transition from a manual wheelchair or other assistive mobility aid to a power chair by increasing physical activity. A few readers thought the article was a direct condemnation of all power mobility devices and that people should not use or rely on them. That is certainly not the case. In fact, I often suggest to friends and family members a balance between use of non-power mobility aids (manual wheelchairs, crutches, canes, walkers) and power mobility devices (i.e., scooters, power wheelchairs), especially when traveling longer distances to offset some of the repetitive stress associated with an altered gait or extensive pushing of a manual wheelchair. To set the record straight (and many thanks to those of you who took the time to send me an email voicing your concerns about the negative tone of the column), I am in no way advocating for a decline in the use of power mobility devices. The focus of the article, however, was to highlight their growing use in the U.S. and to encourage new users of power mobility devices and professionals who recommend them to consider ways to offset the possible decline in energy expenditure by increasing physical activity in small, incremental ways throughout the day.
|Photo of a person in wheelchair crossing a street|
We typically don't gain weight in bunches; rather, we do it in very small increments with slight unnoticeable changes in diet or physical activity, which over time leads to an increase in body weight and in some people, obesity. This is why some experts refer to it as creeping obesity. Any change in energy expenditure, even a slight one, will lead to a surplus of a few extra calories a day and over a period of months and years result in a significant increase in body weight.
There is no need for alarm among new users of a power mobility device or for those who have been using one for many years or all their lives. The key is to recognize that there may be a slight decline in the number of calories you are burning up when you were using a non-power mobility device, or for those using power mobility devices all their lives to recognize that avoiding weight gain may require some additional physical activity.
In next month's column I'll discuss some of the simple ways you can increase your daily physical activity.
Please send any questions or comments to Jim Rimmer, NCHPAD Director at email@example.com.