Lelia and Dale Ginder
The question of whether or not scoliosis can be “cured” with the right wheelchair seating is a critical one because of how common the condition is among wheelchair users, how frequently it progresses, and its potential impact not just on posture, but also on multiple systems within the human body.
So can the right seating equipment — with the usual complex rehab technology caveat that no single component or system is the perfect solution for every client — stop scoliosis in its destructive tracks? Furthermore, can the right equipment choices reverse scoliosis that already exists?
Reversing the Trend?
Katherine Sims, VP of communications for Matrix Seating USA, says yes — that certain types of seating products can cure scoliosis.
“Adjustable micro-modular seating (AMMS) is utilized to provide superior seating and positioning for complex rehab wheelchair users,” Sims says. “AMMS is being used as an orthotic in Europe to decrease the progression of scoliosis and has been proven to correct it. This is the way of the future for custom-molded seating in the United States.”
As an executive of a company that provides just that type of seating system, Sims is naturally biased. So she points out a study by Steve Cousins and Ron Clarke, both from the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability in London. (The study and other research and media reports are available on the matrixseatingusa.com Web site in the Publications section.)
Cindi Petito, OTR/L, ATP, CAPS, president of Seating Solutions, a Florida-based occupational therapy practice, acknowledges that the idea of correcting conditions such as scoliosis is a new one in the United States.
“Considering the possibility that spinal and postural deformities can be corrected with the use of a seating system is a new methodology in the United States,” Petito says. “Steven Cousins, Ph.D., BASc, MASc, PEng, in collaboration with an orthotic engineer in Sweden, began exploring the possibilities of using AMMS for corrective positioning in the late 1990s. As this methodology is better understood through case studies and research in the U.S., custom-molded seating will eventually become utilized to decrease the progression of scoliosis and other diseases where they may be present.”
A Proactive Approach
Sims says the possibility of being able to halt scoliosis would be welcome news for people like Lelia Ginder, Gainesville, Fla., whose son, Dale, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and uses a power chair.
Sims says Lelia Ginder “hopes the AMMS system he is using will help keep him supported so that he does not develop severe scoliosis, which can be an issue for Duchenne boys as they lose muscle. [She] feels like she is being proactive with their choice of seating system. The fact that AMMS can be adjusted and will grow with Dale means that he will always have the correct postural support.”