Adaptive Equipment and Devices

Choosing Equipment

The initial evaluation is very important in determining what kind of equipment to choose.  It should be done by your child’s local physician, physical or occupational therapist, or a local medical center, who may consult with vendors (equipment supply stores) to find the right piece of equipment.  It is good to do your own research.  Call or compose a letter requesting catalogs from a variety of rehabilitation equipment vendors and talk to other families.  Some vendors will bring the equipment to your home or will allow you to keep it on a short trial basis. 

Funding Equipment

Contact your insurance company and thoroughly review your policy.  Follow any required procedures to the letter.  Any deviation could result in a reduction of benefits.  You may need pre–approval.  After you purchase the equipment, it may be too late.  If you need a prescription for the equipment, get the forms you need from the insurance company and take them to your physician to complete.  After an evaluation, the physician will write a prescription along with a letter of justification.

You should start early, especially for large or custom items.  It may take 4 to 6 months to get a new wheelchair.  If your request is denied, follow up with an appeal.  You may have to make some phone calls, get more documentation, or even get a second medical opinion; but the extra work often pays off.

Additional Funding Sources

There are a number of funding sources for devices and services and it is important to go through them in proper order.  First, try insurance or Medicaid, schools or the Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.  Each source has its own procedures and policies.  So do your homework first.

Insurance / Medicaid

A claim of medical necessity is a must.  Denial is not the end of the story.  Make it clear you will appeal.


Schools may purchase communication devices to enable the student to participate in a normal academic setting.

Vocational Rehabilitation

These programs may fund equipment if it is the main obstacle to employment.  Eligibility vary from state to state.

Private Corporations

Businesses can take a tax write–off for charitable contributions and get good community PR at the same time.

Trust Funds

Check with trust division of banks in your area to see if a trust fund exists for the purpose of helping people with disabilities.

Service Clubs

Local civic organizations such as the Lions Clubs, Kiwanis and Rotary often contribute to the purchase of equipment.


Churches and other organizations are often helpful in putting on a fundraiser, such as a car wash, bake sale, dinner or raffle.


These organizations grant wishes to people with specific needs.  Contact the Sunshine Foundation or the Make a Wish Foundation.