What is the MERU Bugzi?
Bugzi is a powered wheelchair for children up to about 6 years old.
Bugzi is an indoor chair and can be used in any similar environment – your home; nursery or school playground; museum; play group or play centre; garden; local park playground; shopping centre; etc.
Bugzi does not have a waterproof jacket so he needs to stay dry and he is also only tested to go over little bumps (about 2cm) and not up any big hills so he needs to be used somewhere pretty flat.
Much like other children’s equipment such as scooters and bicycles, Bugzi can be easily transported in a vehicle and used in different places.
Why is Bugzi important?
“Independent mobility enables children to move about their environment, providing foundational experiences for cognitive and psychosocial development” (Field et al, 2015)
“[Assistive Technology] facilitates their ability to learn, promotes independence, increases self-esteem, and encourages positive thinking” (Nicolson, Moir and Millsteed, 2012)
“…use of a wheelchair (manual or power) does not negatively impact motor development and can increase participation in play, inter-personal relationships, mobility and personal skill” (Livingstone and Field, 2014)
“…for children and young people wheelchairs offer more than mobility; they offer enhanced independence, social integration and participation in age-appropriate activities. It is therefore paramount that wheelchair interventions are seen as facilitators to a new way of life.” (Bray et al, 2014)
“Mobility devices, including power mobility devices, enable individuals with disabilities to achieve mobility, realize equal opportunities, benefit from human rights, and live in dignity.” (Kenyon et al, 2018)
“Cannot speak highly enough for what Bugzi gives Ethan he LOVES his independence so much. He took himself to the end of his Papa’s lane today to watch the cars whizzing past! Ethan simply loves the freedom it gives him to go wherever he wants. It doesn’t bear thinking about if we couldn’t offer him this opportunity to explore. Thank you so much Bugzi!!” (Ethan’s Mum, 2019)
Bugzi is for children up to 25kgs or with a maximum lower leg measurement (back of knee to heal) of 33cm.
Bugzi can be used with switches or a Moozi joystick to control his movement. He can be used with one switch to move in one, circular direction, or can be used with a joystick to move all around, and plenty of other options in between. Therefore, there are no limitations to a child’s developmental abilities that would affect their access to the Bugzi Loan Scheme.
Bugzi uses the ActiveDesign mini CAPS seating system which provides multiple levels of postural support.
Both the broad specification and flexibility of the controls and seating mean that Bugzi can be successfully accessed by those children with complex needs.
How does MERU provide Bugzi?
MERU fundraise specifically so that Bugzi is available free of charge to children (and their families and schools).
Application forms can be completed by a parent or child’s professional, but must contain the details of a professional involved with the child and the parents’ signature – they can found here:
Once the application form is completed and received by MERU an Occupational Therapist will review the application and get back to you.
The family will need to pay a £100 deposit when their application has been accepted, and this money is refunded at the end of the Loan scheme when Bugzi has been retuned. You can pay the deposit via our shop here:
When can we get a Bugzi?
We pass successful applications on to your nominated satellite centre and aim for you to take your own Bugzi home within 3 months (but we hope to work quicker than that!)
Where can I try a Bugzi?
Our goal is to offer a Bugzi assessment within 100 miles of your home, but we are still working on recruiting some more satellite centres to achieve this. You will need to travel to one of our satellite centres (which are throughout the UK, see the links below) who’s Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist will provide you with your assessment and then hopefully your own Bugzi to take home with you that day.
Our partner satellite centres are:
Cardiff, Wales (contact MERU for clinic dates)
…there are any problems? Bugzi is on loan, so just contact Bugzi HQ at MERU and we will help to solve your problems – advice regarding battery charging? Worn out seat covers? New switches?
…someone else likes the look of Bugzi? Tell them how wonderful Bugzi is and that they can apply themselves!
…you have a small living space? Bugzi has such a small turning circle that small living spaces are easy to navigate. This means a child can be independent in their own home. You may also choose to keep Bugzi (somewhere safe!) where your child can better use him. Examples might be at nursery or at another family member’s home.
You can also keep in touch and learn from other Bugzi families by requesting to join our Bugzi Families Facebook group
How long can I keep my Bugzi?
You and your Bugzi will not be parted until you are ready. It may be that you feel you do not use it any longer, that you have been given a better product by your wheelchair service, or that you have out-grown Bugzi. Either way get in contact with Bugzi HQ at MERU and we can discuss how to return Bugzi. He can then be refurbished and sent to another child for the next chapter of his life.
What’s next after Bugzi?
It is useful to start thinking about the next steps before your child out-grows Bugzi as assessment and ordering equipment can take several months.
Usually families will apply to their local wheelchair service for mobility options and you will undergo their referral and assessment criteria to work out what works best. Remember to tell them about how your child uses Bugzi as it will help with the decision making!
Some charities and groups related to your child’s diagnosis can support with moving on from Bugzi onto the next type of mobility equipment.
Some children are not able to use powered mobility once they have out-grown Bugzi as their environment is simply not safe enough for them to drive in. This can be a difficult decision.
Regardless of ‘what’s next’, use your local Therapists for the best advice for your child’s onward mobility journey.