January 3, 2024
Nicole was told by the pediatric therapy clinic in Waltham — a renowned clinic for kids with disabilities — that her daughter Carlie needed to stand.
“When you’re 12 months old, you’re supposed to be up on your feet and standing,” she explained. But Carlie has a condition similar to cerebral palsy that makes standing on her own impossible. “It was kind of a race against the clock.”
Nicole panicked when her insurance denied her daughter a pediatric stander. Her goal, she says, is for her daughter to avoid hip dysplasia and reconstructive surgery — an expensive, avoidable outcome.
“It was kind of a race against the clock.” – Nicole, Carlie’s mom
When she reapplied, however, she was denied again. And then again. Each time, weeks of development were lost in this race for her daughter.
“Finally, I posted to this mom’s-of-the-clinic Facebook group. I was pleading for help, and someone answered. They asked if I’d checked out REquipment.”
REquipment is a way to find free, gently used, durable medical equipment and assistive technology in Massachusetts. Last year, we provided over 1,500 devices to households that needed them statewide. Our inventory is browseable online, and anyone can make a request or donate equipment. There are no hoops or hurdles.
Carlie’s first device from us was the Super Stand HLT-E1.
The Super Stand helped Carlie develop the strength, stamina, and hips for walking, something many of us take for granted as we chase after a baby-turned-toddler. Nicole credits the Super Stand with making possible Carlie’s enthusiastic use of her walker. “She bombs around on that thing,” she says.
Carlie is now three years old. She’s long outgrown her Super Stand, and Nicole saw that coming. She’s been looking for an Easystand Zing for more than half a year. Only the Zing provides the abduction stretch her daughter needs to improve her range of motion and prevent contractures. She almost drove to Virginia to get one.
When an Easystand Zing showed up on our website, she cried. And she nearly cried again, talking about it. “I’m having a gratitude moment,” she told us. “Her legs are so tight. I’m so hopeful.” At the clinic, another family with a child who has similar issues uses a Zing, and it’s made a huge difference.
Carlie also has a pediatric activity chair from REquipment that she used a lot as a baby for arts and crafts and sensory activities. Nicole is so appreciative that when our funding was in jeopardy last year, she took our cause to TikTok. She mentioned it on the phone when she called about delivery. “Can I say something else on the record here?,” she asked when we recorded this interview.
“Once you become part of this community of people with disabilities — which is obviously life-altering — you see the way that it affects others, too. You see people who are in dire need of this equipment and not getting it. Witnessing that is also life-changing.
‘At the clinic, I hear about families waiting for new wheelchairs for years. Or they’re in a wheelchair that’s too small. Or people using makeshift equipment because insurance denied them. Or about people saying they have to get in the shower with their kid. You hear this stuff, and it’s like, we put a man on the moon … can’t we help these families?
‘REquipment is a life-changing resource. You can get a wheelchair, a bath chair. You guys have just really important stuff. Carlie might need a medical stroller for longer distances, and I’m scared about insurance approval. But just knowing this service exists is a comfort. Even if you don’t use it for six months or a year, even if you have everything that you need, just knowing that if you need something, the service is there. If I had to rely on insurance for everything, Oh my god! I’d be a crazy lady.”
“REquipment is a life-changing resource.” – Nicole, Carlie’s mom
Nicole checked the REquipment website routinely for Carlie’s Zing. It took months, but now Carlie will continue standing, strengthening, and “bombing” about the house.
“REquipment doesn’t say ‘No.'” Nicole observes. “REquipment says, ‘Yes or not yet.'”
Help more families in Massachusetts like Carlie’s. Donate to REquipment.