Gadsden CRS office helps teen secure standing chair

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Grayson Huffman could not contain her excitement recently when she arrived at the Gadsden Children’s Rehabilitation Service office to receive a new motorized standing wheelchair.

Grayson, 17, a junior at Cherokee High School, has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder.

Thursday’s presentation of the new chair ended more than six months of paperwork, research, and second effort from the Gadsden Children’s Rehabilitation Service office, Grayson’s family, and other supporters.

Providing a chair with standing capabilities is extremely difficult, CRS Physical Therapist Lisa Ellis said. Securing a chair with this feature for a second time is even more challenging.

Grayson, who underwent extensive bilateral lower extremity orthopedic surgeries in Atlanta when she was younger to give her a fighting chance to walk and have functional motor skills, had a standing Permobil unit that she eventually outgrew.

Until Thursday, she had been without the standing option.

A key to securing the chair was proving Grayson’s need so that Medicaid would contribute the remaining funds needed. Grayson’s insurance provider agreed to pay $40,000 of the $60,000 cost, so Ellis said it was important to show the physical need for a standing chair.

Members of the staff had to document everything about Grayson by physically, mentally, and socially addressing all areas of her life and providing the research behind the benefits.

About 20 pages of documentation were submitted, with several people working together after the initial application was denied.

The appeal included information from Grayson’s mother, Sheri Green, who outlined the tremendous progress that Grayson made with her first standing unit.

Ellis said she thinks Green’s input made the difference in Medicaid’s final decision in the case.

“It helps her build her leg muscle, which helps me when she transfers to the bathroom,” she said. “It helps build her confidence in standing and helps with her upper body strength as she uses her arms differently than when she is in a seated position.”

Grayson is still working toward walking, so the chair will help her continue to progress. Green said the standing unit will help her to avoid some problems associated with sitting chairs.

“She won’t be sitting in one spot for eight hours straight, so she can adjust herself around – which I think will help her avoid sores,” she said.

Standing allows Grayson to breath deeper and extend her diaphragm. Transitioning to an upright position also promotes bone health and can prevent osteoporosis.

Independence is another factor. Ellis said Grayson can help with her own care by reaching items on the kitchen counter, participating in science labs at school that would not have been available, and talking to her peers face-to-face.

Transition Social Worker Holly Edwards was on hand to encourage Grayson as she learned the ins and outs of the chair. Edwards, who participated in the process of securing the chair, was as excited as Grayson.

She said Grayson is an intelligent and motivated young lady.

“She’s very outgoing,” she said. “She is in the transition program, and she is doing great. She goes to (the Cherokee High School) greenhouse and she is loving it. Grayson doesn’t miss a beat.”

Edwards said she is grateful to Ellis – and the whole CRS team – for all of the hard work in securing the chair.

“Lisa has a true passion for this, especially for securing wheelchairs for our kids,” she said. “This is her calling.”

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