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From left, Amanda, Sam and Daniel Anastasia

When Amanda Anastasia was about eight years old, she needed a new power wheelchair. “At the time,” her mother Sam recalls, “she had been driving her wheelchair with a scanner. It was a very slow process. The therapists at the Children’s Center for Therapy, where she was going to school, recommended that we visit the seating and mobility clinic at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center. They tested her out using head array, and she did fantastic. She learned to drive with her head.  What a difference it made!”

Amanda, now 20, and her brother, Daniel, 15, have a condition called Aicardi-Goutieres, a syndrome that affects all of their motor functions.  They have been in wheelchairs virtually their entire lives, but, since that visit about 12 years ago, all of their wheelchair and equipment needs are managed by Matheny. 

“When Amanda got her first power wheelchair,” her mother recalls, “I didn’t feel the salesperson had good knowledge of the product. She just suggested a chair, and that’s kind of what we went with. At Matheny, they have expert knowledge about products and seating positioning. Because of the population that lives at Matheny, they have so much real life experience.” Her children, she points out, “live in their chairs. They may go to a different setting, but they’re still in their chairs.” The Matheny therapists, she says, “know their movements, their tone, where they’re tight, where they’re not tight. If there’s a problem, they find a way to solve it. They have creative ideas; they think outside the box.”

The transition from a manual to a power wheelchair, Anastasia emphasizes, is critically important. “A power chair,” she says, “gives them some independence, freedom. They can drive from room to room. The chairs elevate, they tilt, they recline. So, they can change their position themselves. They don’t have to wait for somebody or try to explain to somebody where they want to move."

The seating and mobility clinic at Matheny is part of the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry. The clinic team of therapists and rehabilitation technicians strives to meet the needs of each individual by providing the perfect match of assistive technology services and products to provide the highest level of health, function and quality of life.  For more information, call (908) 234-0011, ext. 722.

Insurance covers less than 50% of the cost of care at the Matheny Center of Medicine and Dentistry. Your contributions to the #GivingTuesday campaign will make certain that those with the greatest need continue to get the support and services they deserve.


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