Information & Advice

Seating & Positioning

Proper seating and positioning is critical for people using mobility devices. Learn more about seating and positioning issues from Ottobock — the expert in mobility solutions for you and your loved ones.

Sitting all day is hard work—something you surely know if you’re a wheelchair user. If you’re an able-bodied caregiver, however, you may not have given it much thought—until an endless car trip leaves you feeling stiff, aching and exhausted. Read on to find out more about seating and positioning issues.

Seating & Positioning Issues

Seating & Positioning Issues

Seating & Positioning Issues

1. Posture

Poor posture brings on fatigue by making poor use of the skeleton’s structure. Muscles tire more quickly because they have to work harder. Prolonged, poor posture creates more strain on the spine, neck, hips and knees. That can lead to a cascade of structural problems—joint pain, reduced flexibility, asymmetrical muscle tightness, and deformity.

If you suffered a loss of bone or muscle below your waist, or have an abnormal spine or pelvis, you may need a special cushion and back support system and may not be able to achieve a level pelvis or level shoulders.

2. Skin integrity—and protecting it

Skin Integrity

2. Skin integrity—and protecting it

Skin that bears weight in a wheelchair lives in hostile territory. Pressure, shear, moisture and heat combine to create ideal conditions for the development of decubitus ulcers. In fact, a landmark study found that at least 20 percent of wheelchair users have a skin breakdown in any one year, which means that virtually every user is likely to encounter a skin problem within four to five years.

Ottobock specializes in seating and positioning products for users at high risk for skin-integrity issues. You are considered at high risk of skin-integrity issues if any of three statements is true as relates to sitting in your chair.

You have a history of redness and/or the presence of open wounds on your seated surface.
You cannot do an effective, independent weight shift on a consistent basis.
You have impaired sensation and don't check your skin daily and don't practice consistent weight shifts.
The good news is that most pressure ulcers—localized injuries to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence—are preventable. For that reason, anyone who spends their days in a wheelchair needs three types of skin protection as it relates to their wheelchair seating system.

3. Function

To maximize your full potential, you have to be able to reach the world. Seating systems, positioning aids and accessories can help make it possible for wheelchair users to achieve a correct, comfortable and safe seating position in most everyday environments.

Products & Materials

Products & Materials

Seating and positioning products come in a broad variety of types and styles, from simple off-the-shelf wheelchair cushions to custom seating. They’re also made out of a variety of materials.

Products by Level of Need

Three general categories of seating and positioning products meet increasing levels of need.

Products by Level of Need

Standard.

For those who have symmetrical posture and low to moderate risk of developing sores, standard cushions and backs may provide adequate comfort.

SHAPE Custom Contoured Seating

Our digital ‘SHAPE’ Seating Systems have been trusted for over 20 years, aiming to prevent further postural deterioration ideally as part of a ’24 hour postural management programme.

SHAPE Seating Systems are the only solution for patients with complex needs as the design and accessories can be fully customised to suit the needs of the user.