What a Homemade Solution Could Say About Comfort
Being a seating & mobility professional often calls for keen powers of observation to pick up the cues that caregivers or family members might not notice, and that your client might not mention.
For instance, asked about what a wheelchair user’s lack of comfort might “look” like, Stephanie Tanguay, OTR, ATP, clinical education specialist at Motion Concepts, observes the client’s current seating system.
“Consumers who have intact or partially intact sensation are acutely aware of their ‘discomfort’ and can be incredibly persistent in communicating that,” she says. “One thing I watch for is consumers who have ‘added onto’ their wheelchair seating systems with home-found materials.”
The presence of those extra items, Tanguay says, might be an attempt to make the seating system more comfortable.
“I believe that the addition of various foam pieces, faux sheepskin, old sofa pillows or even multiple cushions combined together are an indication of the consumer searching for comfort,” she notes. “It can be challenging to explain how thicker lays of material on the seat surface can become detrimental — raising the seat-to-floor height excessively — or the combination of several pillows for a resolution of back pain is leading to other issues because it is limiting seat depth.”
So while these homemade solutions might not ultimately be helpful — and in some cases can make matters worse in the long run — they might succeed at one task: Hinting to the assistive technology professional that something’s amiss and needs to be addressed.
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Mobility Management.