Wheelchair Seating and Mobility Clinic
About 13% of people in the U.S. have mobility disabilities.
UT Southwestern’s Wheelchair Seating and Mobility Clinic, part of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, provides expert evaluation and recommendations to help restore patients’ mobility so they can safely live robust lives.
We offer specialized services to patients who require detailed assessments, examinations, and recommendations in order to receive optimal seating options. We work with patients with a variety of conditions, including neurological, traumatic, and congenital disorders.
The Clinic provides seating evaluations and recommendations for both standard and custom manual wheelchairs as well as both basic and complex power wheelchairs that can be independently driven by a patient.
Please note that a referral from your doctor is required.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
Prior to your appointment, please complete the MyChart questionnaires titled:
- Mobility Questionnaire
- Functioning Everyday with a Wheelchair
Due to limited parking options, patients being seen in our wheelchair clinic are strongly encouraged to valet park at Zale Lipshy Pavilion – William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital.
Your initial appointment will last at least one hour and consist of an evaluation with a physician or nurse practitioner along with an assistive technology professional (ATP). In some cases, a physical or occupational therapist will also be part of your evaluation.
During your appointment, we will discuss your medical history, mobility history, functional abilities, and how these impact everyday tasks you perform in your home. We will also discuss your previous experiences with mobility devices (cane, walker, or other wheelchairs).
Depending on your need, an equipment trial may be conducted at the time of your appointment.
We have arranged to have a wheelchair durable medical equipment (DME) supplier present at your evaluation. You may choose to have the DME supplier of your choice present instead. If so, please notify us prior to the appointment. If you choose to work with your own vendor, it will be your responsibility to inform the vendor of your appointment day and time. We encourage patients to select a DME supplier who is an Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP), certified by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA). To locate an ATP, visit www.RESNA.org.
After Your Appointment
After your evaluation, the wheelchair supplier will contact you to arrange a home visit. This visit allows you to try pieces of equipment within your home. Your skill and the functionality of the equipment in your environment will be evaluated. We want to ensure that you can use your equipment within your home.
Once the home evaluation is completed and specific equipment chosen, the equipment company works with us and your insurance company on approval. Please note that not all wheelchair suppliers are contracted with all insurance carriers. We will assist as best as we can in arranging a supplier who is contracted with your plan. There may be instances when you may need to reach out to your insurance carrier for equipment providers.
After receiving approval from the insurance carrier, the supplier orders the equipment. Once the equipment arrives at the supplier’s office, he or she assembles the wheelchair and contacts you to arrange for delivery.
At the delivery visit, the supplier will teach you about the functions of the equipment. You should then be able to manage the equipment yourself. If you have questions, the supplier will be the main contact for assistance with equipment function, adjustment, and maintenance.
The entire process, from evaluation to delivery of the wheelchair, can take a few weeks or several months due to the detailed paperwork and forms needed for insurance approvals. The process may take longer due to delays in scheduling the home visit, long periods for testing of equipment or having to try multiple pieces of equipment, delays in approval from the insurance carrier, or delays in scheduling the delivery of the product.
After You Receive your Mobility Device
The providers in the wheelchair clinic strongly encourage all patients to return for a follow-up visit. The goal of the visit is the ensure that your needs were met and that the chair is correct for you. We prefer in-person appointments as this allows us to best examine your seating. However, we realize not everyone can transport their wheelchair or device. Telemedicine appointments are also an option, should this be more convenient for you.
Key Points to Remember
Please keep this documentation handy including:
- Who is your vendor and the ATP you worked with?
- When did you receive your chair?
- Reach out to your vendor for preventive maintenance every six months.