Positioning Components: When Looks Are Deceiving
To people whose frame of
reference is a seat belt
in a car or a lap bar on a roller
coaster, the harnesses, straps
and belts used in complex
rehab positioning can look like restraints.
Jim Dyes of Therafin Corp.
says that’s a common misperception
of people unfamiliar with seating & mobility. Those folks
think “these things are used as restraints… they’ll even refer to them
as restraints in conversation.”
Actually, Dyes says, “In many cases, by holding the position it
allows the freedom for individuals to actually be more active, to use
their limbs properly, to be able to function at a higher level because
of that support. It’s not restrictive; it’s almost freeing, by giving them
that additional support.”
Dyes gives a real-life example of a child with cerebral palsy who
was unable to communicate. The rehab team added a wheelchair
tray to the system and strapped the child’s arm to the tray.
“By limiting some of that movement, [the child] was able to
control their fingers and use a communications device to speak to
their parents,” Dyes says. “Until they got that figured out, there was
no communication at all. But by being able to restrict part of the
movement and control the movement, it actually enabled a finemotor
skill, which gave them communications ability for the first time
in their life.”
Dyes says parents are sometimes disconcerted when they see
what they perceive to be restraints being used on their child. “But
once they understand the functionality and they’ve experienced it,
[the components] almost become invisible to them.”
Success stories like this one can be helpful to share with
consumers or caregivers who are just learning about the possibilities
of these components.
“If you just allow the perception to rule,” Dyes says, “it’s just going
to be looked at negatively.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Mobility Management.