ATP Series

Understanding Seat Slope Semantics

What’s in a name? Seat slope has a range of commonly heard synonyms — seat angle, seat inclination, squeeze, dump — used in different contexts.

Tricia Garven, PT, ATP, clinical applications manager for The ROHO Group, says those terms are often used interchangeably, though the terms don’t all mean exactly the same thing.

“The seat-to-back angle can be adjusted independently,” she says. “But the seat-to-back angle adjusted in conjunction with true seat slope, meaning the change from front to rear seat-to-floor height, and then changing the back angle to match so you still maintain basically the same line of sight — that’s what (many) people call ‘dump.’”

Garven makes a distinction: “To me, dumping the chair is like tilting it, and then ‘squeezing’ it is changing that seat-back angle.”

And seat slope itself?

“Seat slope truly is if you have a 17" seat-to-floor height in the front and 15" seat-to-floor height in the back, it’s that 2" change in front and rear seat-to-floor height. That’s your seat slope.”

Ultimately, Garven suggests, the most important result is that members of the seating team are all communicating clearly with each other, regardless of what specific terms individual team members use.

“You have to understand, therapist to supplier, what you’re talking about so that you’re on the same page,” she says.

“I can only imagine that somewhere in some clinic, a therapist asks, ‘Can’t you squeeze this seat up?’ They mean the seat-to-floor height and squeeze the backrest, when maybe the dealer may think squeezing it truly is just changing the back angle, closing that back angle.”

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of Mobility Management.

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