Editor's Note

No Distractions

popcornI don’t see a lot of movies on the big screen. Even if I’m thoroughly enjoying the film, I find myself counting the number of emergency exits, wondering if the ceiling is truly textured or just appears that way, and contemplating what I’ll have for lunch afterward.

I just have a very short attention span in theaters. Or so I thought.

As a bit of a history buff, I’d been looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, based on the miraculous World War II evacuation of stranded Allied troops from occupied France. So on a Sunday morning in July, I headed to the movie theater.

A friend had given me a free pass, but when I asked for a ticket to the 9:45 screening in a standard theater, the helpful cashier steered me to a slightly later showing in a Dolby theater, which — limited as my theater experiences are — I’d never tried before.

“You’ll love it!” she assured me. “The theater is bigger, the screen is bigger, the sound is amazing, and the seats are way more comfortable. And your pass qualifies for a Dolby theater!”

I took her advice. But knowing how I behave in theaters, I also went to concessions and bought popcorn and an ICEE. And I’d smuggled a cookie in my jacket pocket. I know me. I need other things to keep me busy.

Lugging my snacks, I found my assigned seat. I sat and immersed into it as I never had with any other theater seat. Then I saw the electronics: reclining back + elevating legrest! I played with the controls until I had the perfect combination that distributed significant weight over my back and legs.

Then something amazing happened: I watched the movie.

Dunkirk is magnificent, a poem of a film that makes the most of every glance, every gesture and every word of its sparse dialog.

But I’d fidgeted, squirmed and counted rows of theater seats while watching other superb films. This time, I barely moved. My popcorn sat uneaten; my ICEE melted.

As I was doing interviews for our “Immersion, Envelopment, Off-Loading” story (page 17), I thought about the ultimate goal of wheelchair seating. This industry always talks of function and clinical benefits and sitting tolerance. But at the end of it, isn’t the seating system’s job to melt into the background of consumers’ lives? To be so functional, so comfortable, so supportive that its user carries on without giving the seating much thought at all?

After Dunkirk was over, I bounced out of my seat and walked out. I didn’t have to stretch, because my back and legs weren’t stiff as they normally are after sitting for hours. That Dolby theater seating was so effective that it faded into the background, and suddenly, I was able to fully focus on the film. No constant fidgeting. No popcorn needed.

It’s amazing what optimal seating and positioning can do!

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 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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