Posture is crucial for wheelchair users, as a poor posture in their seated position can lead to pain and problems throughout the body. Good posture means a straight position of the head, symmetrical alignment of the pelvis, a shoulder position slightly backward of the pelvis and a well-formed chest. The following, therefore, are some handy tips for achieving that posture and avoiding or limiting potential problems.
Consider the Slope of the Seat
It is vital for a wheelchair user to have a seat which slopes in a manner that best suits their individual needs. A seat that slopes forwards so as to be lower at the front, for instance, can combat issues of posterior pelvic tilt. An inversely sloped seat that is lower at the rear, meanwhile, not only prevents anterior pelvic tilt but can also help to manage Scoliosis or the excessive inward curvature of the spine.
Pay Attention to Size & Shape of the Backrest & Seat
There are many different ways that a wheelchair backrest can be shaped to assist its user. Biangular shaping, for instance, can accommodate spinal asymmetries, and other contouring can also offer invaluable lumbar support. Similarly, contouring of the seat can also greatly assist the comfort of a wheelchair user who suffers from the hip deformity known as Windsweeping. Finally, too, the overall width of the seat is crucial as if it is too wide that can lead to unwanted pelvic rotation.
Include Additional Support
Many different additional support features can also be added to a wheelchair to encourage better posture and comfort. An adapted tray or a hip or pelvic belt can assist with pelvic tilt, and added lumbar support can prove beneficial to many wheelchair users. Medial knee support, meanwhile, helps with hip abduction and a harness can prove invaluable for greater trunk support.
Choose the Correct Cushioning
If the cushioning included on a wheelchair’s seat is either too deep or too soft it can negate any other features of the chair, when it comes to maintaining good posture. What’s more, poor quality cushioning can also lead to pressure sores or other related problems. Cushions that provides optimal skin protection as well as positioning such as ROHO Cushions, is often an excellent choice.
Don’t Overlook Footplate Positioning
It is easy to overlook the positioning of a wheelchair’s footplate when it comes to best tailoring the chair to its user’s needs. That can be a significant oversight, however, as the footplate can dictate thigh to calf angle and getting that angle correct is important for preventing tight and painful hamstrings.
A final but crucial tip for anyone looking to improve their seating is to seek advice and assistance from professionals and experts with the experience required to help you find the perfect solution for you.
You may have a local specialist near you such as Moorings Mediquip where you can book an assessment to explore your seating options and receive impartial advice to help you improve your seating.
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