Clockwise from top left: AirLogic’s Standard Zippered Anterior Trunk Support, Slim Cut Stretch anterior trunk support, swiveling buckle, and Backpack style supports.
Consider the underappreciated postural support, so essential to successful wheelchair seating, but so overlooked compared to power bases or manual wheelchair frames.
And yet, closer examination of Adaptive Engineering Lab’s (AEL) AirLogic line of supports reveals attention to detail and thoughtfulness to design that rivals that of any other portion of a wheelchair.
Impacting Users’ Microclimate
For components that get relatively little fanfare, postural supports are expected to accomplish a lot. For wheelchair users who lack strength, balance or the ability to reposition themselves efficiently, postural supports can help to maintain functional positioning throughout the day and even through rigorous activities, such as propelling a wheelchair… or finger-painting after snack time.
The AirLogic line includes posture, chest and anterior trunk supports in a range of styles, from traditional to slimmer profiles. There’s even a “Backpack style” made up of two independently mounted straps that can individually address postural needs.
But all members of the AirLogic line have a common construction designed to address — pun intended — a hot topic in seating.
Kirsten Davin, OTD, OTR/L, ATP/SMS, said in an interview with Mobility Management, “What’s great about the AirLogic line in general, and a big speaking point in a lot of arenas right now, is the concept of microclimate. Microclimate is a combination of heat and moisture and other elements that go into the process of creating skin issues. There are a multitude of anterior supports and trunk supports out there. But what sets AirLogic apart is its design. The AirLogic line utilizes a much more breathable fabric than its competitors, so it’s going to maximize the air movement, but also allow moisture and sweat to pass through. It wicks the unwanted, potentially problematic moisture away.”
Davin pointed out that microclimate comes up frequently in conversations about heat and moisture being generated by the user sitting on a seat cushion, but she added, “Heat and moisture can also be a problem with anterior supports. AirLogic’s design combination of increased air movement and moisture removal system is creating a much better microclimate for the client, especially if you have users who are inherently warmer, produce more sweat, or are self propelling and working up some heat.”
Moisture dissipation is also a useful feature when AirLogic is used by clients who have difficulty managing saliva, or by kids who are liable to spill their apple juice… or have apple juice spilled on them by classmates.
“It’s much easier to clean, and a much more durable system than some of the other options out there,” Davin said.
Noting how many users of these supports have unique postural requirements, Davin singled out AirLogic’s ability to address them.
“If you have someone who is really going to feed into a position — someone who is presenting with lateral scoliosis, trunk rotation, spinal rotation, shoulder retraction or protraction — the AirLogic line is ideal, as it will also allow for specific and more intricate adjustments,” she said.
“We use AirLogic products for clients who present with your typical asymmetries: kyphotic presentations, lordosis, scoliosis. But for those who present with greater asymmetry, or who require greater precision in adjustment, or improved cosmetic appearance with a lowerprofile support, we often incorporate the Backpack style.”
Imagine the look from the front when you carry a backpack by a single strap on one of your shoulders. That’s the idea behind the AirLogic Backpack style support.
“In the industry, there has historically been a fear associated with having an anterior support application, due to the risk of it becoming maladjusted or the client sliding down and having the support too close to the neck,” Davin said. “One great benefit of the Backpack style is that it fits much like a child’s backpack would, thus eliminating the risk of a choking hazard.
“Let’s say the client is completely unattended, and they pull out of whatever type of pelvic support was involved. You won’t run the risk of it becoming unsafe for the client because it is strictly a backpack presentation. This Backpack style also allows the therapist to easily and much more efficiently address single-shoulder positioning. If they have trunk rotation or shoulder protraction, you can really get in there with those separate Backpack style posture supports and make the necessary adjustments to each side.”
Positioning from Every Angle
AirLogic also offers anterior trunk supports with regular and slimcut profiles to further customize the fit to each user’s preferences.
Davin has put the different profiles to good use, pointing out that Backpack style supports can be helpful when the seating team needs to avoid interfering with feeding tubes or colostomy bags. Recently, Davin used a slim-style anterior trunk support for a woman with cancer who’d had a double mastectomy and couldn’t tolerate a postural support pressing against that area.
“We did a slim-cut option that completely circumvented the breast tissue, and that allowed her to be able to have that torso support without encroaching near those surgical sites,” Davin said.
Alexis Kopca, AEL’s marketing manager, said AirLogic was born because the manufacturer heard that traditional Neoprene belts were too hot, “that they held in too much heat and that they were uncomfortable. So we wanted to come up with something that was breathable.” AEL’s engineers found their answer in layering airmesh and perforated Neoprene fabrics, which provided breathability plus durability. Kopca refers to AirLogic panels as having “controlled” stretch capabilities, which has led to less tearing, even for users who are very active.
“Another point that we were working on in R&D was we wanted to make sure they were machine washable,” Kopca said, adding that AirLogic supports are “easy to take off and throw in the washing machine, and they also dry very quickly because of that moisture-wicking property.”
AEL hired a fashion designer with high-performance sports gear experience to develop such concepts as an anterior trunk support zipper that is “invisible,” its teeth turned inward toward the user rather than facing front, and silver threading for curb appeal — critical, Kopca said, because AEL is working on solidifying its reach to adults after being long known for its pediatric solutions.
So far, AirLogic’s overall strategy and features are working, with seating professionals especially loving the line’s breathability and durability. AEL Sales Manager Lindsay Koerner noted, “ATPs have said those two features have saved them time and money typically spent on replacement harnesses and service calls. [The supports] hold up much better over time, don’t tear, and they’re great for those more active users, those patients with high tone and spasticity that would typically tear a harness.”
Kopca declined to elaborate too much on future plans for an AirLogic line that clearly focuses on all the details, including buckles that can swivel for a more precise fit, and top and bottom buckles that are different, so the supports can’t be accidentally fastened upside-down by caregivers. But she promises there’ll be more. “We are definitely looking at expanding the line and the technology as far as we can,” she said. “It’s very popular, and the feedback has been very positive. It’s very exciting for us.”