Ensuring mobility

A motor vehicle accident almost seven years ago completely changed life as Derrick Rice, 30, of Bladenboro, knew it. A terminal diagnosis due to injuries including a spinal fracture, crushed legs and a dislocated shoulder left Rice’s family with little hope. However, years of therapy and 15 surgeries later, Rice is thriving as co-owner of and designer at Elizabethtown Florist as well as a freelance writer.

On Friday, Sept. 29, a new power wheelchair was delivered to Rice’s place of business by Certified Assistive Technical Professional Bill Shirley of Southeastern Complex Mobility and Seating.

“I love the height. It’s comfortable,” said Rice as he drove the chair around the floral shop for the first time.

Rice had been hesitant to use power wheelchairs until he was advised recently by his primary care provider that the shoulder that was injured during his accident might not hold up over time with all the strain of a manual chair.

“I decided I would try the automated chair and I am so glad that I did,” said Rice. “It allows me to do so much more than I was able to do before.”

Before receiving his new chair, Rice met with a physician, physical therapist and Shirley, who also traveled to Rice’s home to measure door frames to ensure the new chair would fit his home setting. The chair was ordered with custom settings and features based on Rice’s lifestyle and needs.

“The complex mobility and seating devices that we are providing require that the patient, the supplier, the referring physician, and the physical or occupational therapist discuss its medical necessity multiple times in order to secure funding and deliver most appropriate wheelchair possible,” said Shirley. “Most insurances only allow one device every five years, so it is critical that we get accurate measurements, fitting the chair to the person, and not the person to a chair that happens to be in stock. Most complex mobility devices are custom ordered from the manufacturer specifically to fit that person.”

Southeastern Complex Mobility & Seating, located in Lumberton, is an affiliate of Southeastern Health and facilitates custom-fitted mobility equipment.

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