As a father, I want to see my kids become independent and want to, you know, go out and play.
It's hard to believe that millions of children and adults around the world never become independent simply because they don't have an assistive device that's right for their condition or their environment.
There's about 100 million people around the world that can benefit and or need a wheelchair for mobility.
Santiago Torres of Medallin, Colombia, for example, can't walk because he suffers from a rare form of Spina Bifida. Unfortunately, in his case, donated wheelchairs have caused additional problems.
The wheelchair that we had before was really big, keeping him from maintaining good posture.
But through the efforts of the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, a new wheelchair, one that was fitted especially for Santiago is changing this young boy's life.
It really is a big change almost 100% different.
Because of its long standing commitment to wheelchair research, SHRS receive USAID funding to establish the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals. ISWP works to promote World Health Organization guidelines among wheelchair manufacturers, technicians, and local organizations.
We felt that it was important to develop more of a professional society that would bring awareness related to the need for wheelchairs and try to professionalize the individual wheelchair service providers. I knew that if the grant, if we were awarded the grant, the student interest would sort of skyrocket and it certainly has.
We are working on like developing mechanical tests that are going to test safety, durability, and performance of wheelchairs. I would like to continue that work and also have ISWP efforts in India and other parts of Asia.
ISWP is already having an impact around the world. Like Santiago, children and adults who live in developing countries now have access to appropriate wheelchair technology. And clinicians are being trained to properly fit users.
Hopefully this wheelchair lasts longer and because the wheelchair has passed ISWP standards.
In Columbia SHRS alumna and ISWP partner Maria Toro provided training to those who work with Santiago.
I have been trying to advocate for the allocation of our physical therapist and also our medical students related to wheelchair provision. So ISWP has been very instrumental.
If you don't have an appropriate wheelchair, it is unlikely that you will be able to independently go to work or go to school.
Independence for a child also becomes almost a woman's rights topic and independence for the mother.
For me, it's a lot easier to move my son around, especially getting him in and out of the car and taking him different places.
If you watch the video which I think is really illustrative of what that wheelchair has done for Santiago, you can see that he's anxious to not even be part of the video right? He wants to get out. He wants to move. It's satisfying to see that. I think most satisfying is to see that that's happening around the world in different locations.
The new wheelchair for Santi really means a better quality of life. We're always striving for him to have a better quality of life in this wheelchair has been a big contribution to help us reach this goal.