Our Little Jacob

This is a blog detailing the daily struggles of having a child with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. My son is 1 of 2 surviving triplets. My son and his identical twin brother Logan who passed away at 6.5 months old had Twin to Twin Transfusion before they were born. They were delivered at 28 weeks to try and save all 3 of their lives. I have a hard time connecting with other parents raising children with severe disabilities so, I thought I would branch away from my other blog to blog just about my son and his special needs in hope of reaching out and supporting other moms dealing with similar issues.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Snug Seat Pony Pediatric Gait Trainer vs. Rifton Pacer Gait Trainer

Jacob has been very blessed to actually own both the Pony and Rifton gait trainers right now. Jacob has always had a rifton. He started with the mini and now has a medium gait trainer at 3 1/2 years old. Jacob requires a lot of support and needs a lot of prompts on his gait trainer. Over the past year he has had a lot of spastic issues with his legs and some major scissoring. We had a point when he was taking impressive steps and going quit the distance in his gait trainer, but after 2 phenol injects 5 months apart and a weight gain of over 10lbs and 1 major surgery since May 2012 the steps are nearly nonexistent.  We have been using his gait trainer more as a standing device. I personally do not like putting him in the actual stander. I like him having the freedom to actively stand and move his legs when he wants. The seat in the rifton has been a major issue with us over the past year at least...pretty much since he got his OWN gait trainer. The seat is not long enough and the taller and longer he has gotten it is harder to get him at the slightly tilted angle to encourage him to take steps. He likes to get his legs in front of him and this causes the corners of the seat to dig in his legs. I have yet to find away to stop this no matter how I adjust it and neither has his physical therapist. I know each child is unique and not everyone will fit a device the same. I am trying to give a review on these 2 device on how user friendly they are compared to who might benefit from it better.

As for the Rifton. The Mini and the Size 1 (at least the ones I had) DO NOT FOLD. They are HEAVY and there are a lot of parts to adjust. My son's gait trainer has

*the medium folding frame
* arm prompts and bars for his his hands to grip with Velcro strap to go around his wrist and for arms
* hip positioner (seat)
*ankle prompt
*chest prompt

So putting him in this device using all it has there is 4 Velcro straps for his arms, 2 clips to go around his ankles to stop the scissoring, and 2 clips on the chest prompt. When putting my son in and out he tends to get his AFOS/Shoes stuck on the seat and it takes an effort of twisting and maneuvering to get him out.
The Pros:
It is well made.
It has many options to customize it and different colors. The list of accessories is long and expensive
It folds in 1/2 for easier storage but still large, heavy and bulky (medium size and up)
You can lock the wheels so it does not move, you can make the wheels go in 1 direction and not swivel, and you can make the wheels only move forward so the child can not walk backwards in it.
Easy to take parts off as they are no longer needed. For example once a child can bear weight and shift their weight the seat can be removed, the chest piece can be removed etc.

The cons:
It does the job, I don't mind any of the features except the ankle prompts. I feel that they are restrictive and harder for my son to move his legs with them on. Without them his legs are everywhere...to the sides, walking on his other foot etc. He has nothing to keep him mid lined.
I have a very hard time getting it adjust just right.
The seat digs in my sons legs leaving red marks..I think he has the size small seat and simply needs the large.

The Pony gait trainer: This is new to us. I have had it about 3 days. Due to the issues with the pressure marks with the rifton my son does not get to use it as long as he used to. His school started working with him in the pony gait trainer.  I LOVE how simple it is and how user friendly it is. This gait trainer is also customizable but you don't really have the ability to take as many things off. This is definitely better for a child who may always need support of a seat.

The one Jacob now owns is pretty basic. It is the size 2 purple frame It has the chest support and the grab bar on the front. This one is so much easier to put him in once you have it adjust right. Everything is loosened and tightened by an Allen wrench that has a little storage spot on the back of the seat.

The things I love about the one I have: I love that the seat is padded and "saddle" like. It has a cushioned back to it that adjust to keep his bottom in 1 spot. The seat hooks up in the front to stop him from sliding his hips to far forward. I love that there is no way he can scissor his legs and makes him keep his legs more mid lined with his body. He still has the ability to put his legs in front of him in a "sitting" position but there is nothing for his legs to dig into. There is option hip supports, but mine does not have them. So he has the ability to spread his legs apart as much as he can. I LOVE that it is really simple to tilt him forward to prompt taking steps. The rifton I had to angle the chest prompt forward and constantly adjust the hip positioner (seat) to get him bottom higher up to make him lean forward. This gait trainer was just made for children like him!

Things I wish were better. Mainly the wheels they are tiny compared to the rifton and would be hard to use outside. I can not lock the wheels to only move in 1 direction. Apparently the front 2 wheels can be locked so they don't swivel, but I have yet to find this...I just read it online. :-) You also can not customize the colors. Each color represents which size it it. 0 is yellow, 1 is fuchsia, 2 is purple, 3 is red. Oh I also wish the front support bars to the frame were a little farther forward. Jacob gets his feet up on the bars and kicks them. This also does not fold. Everything can be taken off or pushed down to make it smaller, but then you have to readjust again.

It is so simple to put him in  and take him out of this one. No arms to strap in no ankles to strap. I simply put hi legs over the seat and the back of the chest piece Velcros closed and then has a snap clip that secures it.

It is late and probably not the best review in the world. Just my option. I am totally LOVING the Pony gait trainer!

BTW we were very blessed that the new gait trainer was donated to us by family who no longer needed it. I was planning on trying to buy one if he did well on the one he was using at school and now I may have a rifton to donate soon. I'm afraid to get rid of it just yet.

The medium Rifton Pacer

The size 2 Pony Gait Trainer

I just wanted to update how it has been going after using the pony gait trainer for a few weeks. I still think it is nice and easy to use. Not really sure if it is just me not adjusting it right vs. this still not being what will work best for him. Our problem being even with the seat being tilted forward, I can't get him to stop resting his feet forward on the bars infront of him. Atleast in the the Rifton I was sorta able to make him bear full weight on his legs. This one He just sits in the seat. I had taken the rifron out of the room and folded it up and decided to bring it back out. for standing purposes. It is heavier than the pony, but I really do like how much the wheels are more adustable on the rifron. (I think the pony now has better wheels than the one I have) As a temporay fix to stopping the seat from digging into my son's theighs, I came up with the genious idea to stick one of the mini pillow pets in the seat. I've been afraid to leave him standing in it for more than 30 minutes, but so far no more pressure marks. I'm hoping to get a bigger seat soon. Also, the company that we got the gait trainer from today is coming out to adjust his wheel chair. I'm going to see if I can get him to look at both gait trainers and see if he has any suggestions on what I can do to make them better for him. I wish the pony had something to make him keep his legs back. Also with his spastic arms he really needs arm promps that he can grip and strap in. All he does is twist himself in awkward positions now. I should check into some accessories for the pony gait trainer maybe. Anyway, we have both set up in the livingroom right now and I switch him between the 2 of them during the day now.


  1. Hi Jennifer,
    You mention above that you think you may need the large hip positioner seat for your son's Pacer gait trainer. If you feel it would be a help to try the Pacer with the larger seat, we would be happy to send you one, free of charge. Please let me know by sending an email to sales@rifton.com marked "For the Rifton Webmaster" and I will arrange it for you.
    Rifton's webmaster

    1. Thank you so much. I have sent you an email.

    2. I have a friend looking for a small one but theyre so expensive!! Her son uses it in physical therapy. Any suggestions on where to/how to find someone with a small size one? We are in Ohio

  2. Hi my Granddaughter has the same diagnoses she is 21/2 we are having so much trouble getting her walker my daughters ins denied it after a three month wait and said her in home therapy group would have to get it and they say it will take three to four months also. I've been trying to find one donated, she has the same issues that your son has. If you have any web sites of information on how to find people that donate would really appreciate it thank you. My name is Angie and hear is my email address angielooper@hotmail.com