CRT Technology Showcase

OBSS Ortho-Shape Back: One Backrest, Many Solutions

OBSS Ortho-Shape BackIn a perfect world, a complex rehab positioning product would be considered successful if it maximized functionality for a single client.

But in this practical world, funding sources won’t pay for every wheelchair user to have a unique, completely customized backrest, and clinicians and providers don’t have the resources to build one-of-a-kind backrests for every client they see. So manufacturers face a dilemma: Design a backrest versatile and adjustable enough to fit a large population of clients with vastly different needs.

For Active & Dependent Users

Ottobock’s answer: the new OBSS Ortho-Shape back, designed to personally fit an astonishing range of clients, from very active self-propelling ultralightweight wheelchair users to clients in caregiver-propelled chairs.

“We set out to meet the needs of suppliers, clinicians and users when designing the OBSS Ortho-Shape positioning back support,” said John Phillips, ATP/SMS, Ottobock’s North American Senior Market Manager/Human Mobility. “We introduced the OBSS Ortho-Shape custom-contoured seating system a couple of years ago at ISS [International Seating Symposium], and almost immediately our customers asked if we were planning to offer the back separate from the seat.”

Phillips said providers and clinicians offering feedback indicated that they found existing positioning wheelchair backs to be difficult to work with, “and they wanted other options. So from a supplier perspective, our product needed to meet or exceed the competitive products on a feature/benefit level, so that they could purchase from a manufacturer that focuses on ease of business.”

The challenge for Ottobock: “We knew we needed to make a product for active and dependent users of custom contoured seating that managed all the typical seating concerns — e.g., postural stability, pressure management, temperature, comfort — and was attractive, lightweight, low profile and functional,” Phillips said.

Phillips added that a combination of materials was the answer: “Using ABS with a carbon fiber graphic overlay allowed us to meet the needs of being field modifiable and aesthetically pleasing. The ultralightweight adjustable hardware and low-profile design offer maximum functionality for both active and dependent wheelchair users.

OBSS Ortho-Shape Back

Shape back has it covered.

“Our priorities when designing this wheelchair back support in summary were functionality, aesthetics, light weight and durability. All of these priorities matter for all users, some obviously more than others. We also knew that small hardware works well for pediatric patients and wanted to meet the needs of pediatric users as well. Getting input from multiple user types during field trials really helped us focus in on the right priorities.”

A Broad Range of Needs & Abilities

Jackie Casey, MSc., BSc. Hons OT, FHEA, is Ottobock’s clinical specialist of mobility solutions.

“When the backrest was being designed, we wanted to target those clients/consumers from a broad range of needs and abilities,” she said. “We wanted to target both active, independent wheelchair users and users dependent on others for their mobility. We expected these users would have trunk asymmetries or postural trunk collapse that could not be as well managed or accommodated using off-the-shelf seating products.”

It turns out many of the OBSS Ortho-Shape back’s highlights do effectively serve disparate groups of users.

“The combination of being light weight, adjustable and able to provide postural support means that this system is indeed extremely versatile,” Casey said. “The benefits of this versatility for our clients includes an ability to uniquely tailor the back to the individual’s body contours. It simultaneously enables them to have fewer compromises through optimizing their ability to carry out their everyday activities as a result of having a lightweight system.

“Additionally, we have the ability to make small further modifications to the shape in the field, which combined with extremely adjustable hardware, assists us to meet the user’s exact needs. This adjustability through both the hardware and the contour modification option will allow the user to keep the product for many years, even if subtle changes are required, which will ultimately improve client outcomes and decrease costs long term.”

Sleek & Modern

OBSS Ortho-Shape Back“The clients and clinicians that I’ve spoken to regarding the new back have been highly positive about it,” Casey said. “They like that it’s lightweight and has a really low profile — you see the wheelchair user rather than the product. One user said she particularly likes that it’s sleek and modern looking. Also, molded shape offers maximum pressure management through this support surface, as well as postural alignment possibilities.”

Casey said the OBSS Ortho-Shape back has also won fans among self-propellers: “Another patient expressed how lightweight the product is, which meant she can lift her wheelchair into her car without having to remove the back. Many clients become familiar with or ‘attached’ to a seat cushion, so being able to offer this OBSS Ortho-Shape back customized to the client’s contours enables them to have the best of both worlds — a customized back and their preferred seat cushion to optimize their postural stability and pressure redistribution.”

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Mobility Management.

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