Editor's Note

The Goldilocks Principle

For all of us, moving is living.

Since 7:22 this morning — the moment I sat down — I have been intermittently adjusting my office chair. Up, down. Back, upright.

Mine is not, as you might reasonably assume, a new chair. I’ve been using this chair for more than six months, and for most of that time, I’ve felt less than entirely comfortable. By lunchtime, my lower back is stiff; by 3 p.m., I have a full-blown backache.

This office chair is ergonomically designed with seat height and back-angle adjustment levers. My office chair at home is a wooden folding chair topped with throw pillows and augmented by a homemade footrest so my feet don’t dangle.

Given that one chair was designed by workplace engineers and the other was pretty much constructed by me, it seemed obvious which “seating system” should be making my back hurt. Even though my back doesn’t hurt when I sit in my home office chair, even though I spend a lot more hours in my home office chair and still feel comfortable, I blamed it anyway. Clearly, it was so terrible for me that my back couldn’t even tell the difference anymore between good chair and bad chair.

But then came the interviews for this month’s cover feature on tilt. I learned that my ergonomic office chair was not as perfectly adjusted as I’d assumed. So, armed with info gleaned from talking to Stephanie Tanguay, Cody Verrett, Tom Whelan and Jud Cummins (the story’s interviewees), I’m spending some quality time with my office chair today. I noticed its back is currently well past 90 degrees. That means I generally don’t sit with my back in contact with the seat back, because if I do — my feet dangle. And that causes my legs to hurt eventually. So I’ve spent some time closing up the back angle and lowering my seat-to-floor height.

I thought adjusting my office chair would take only a minute. There are only two levers, a seat and a back. And yet, I’ve been adjusting for the last three hours.

To hear it from this story’s experts, however, constantly adjusting our positioning is completely natural. Repositioning ourselves can keep us more comfortable, which ultimately can help us to stay more functional and healthier. That’s why putting the ability to reposition into the hands of wheelchair users and caregivers — via positioning options such as tilt — makes so much sense. As Sunrise Medical’s Tom Whelan said, “More repositioning, more change of posture reflects the normal human condition. Why deny it to people with disabilities when we wouldn’t deny it to ourselves?” Read more.

Our other feature focus this month is the adaptive automotive segment. The last year hasn’t been easy for the automotive market, and the adaptive segment felt the heat, too. But according to National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) CEO Dave Hubbard, there are encouraging signs. See what Dave has to say about the market and NMEDA’s conference this month in Orlando. Plus, we’ve included an Auto Access Marketplace, so you can catch up with the assistive technology in that field.

Additional expert voices this issue include Quantum Rehab’s Jay Brislin on the importance of setting drive parameters for individual power chair clients, and Permobil’s Darren Jernigan, my ATP exam mentor of the month who helped with industry ethics and policies.

As you read, I’m going to take another swing at getting my chair just right.

This article originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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