It is easy to take posture and seating for granted and forget about its importance, especially when in some cases it is all a user can do whilst not in bed. Having the correct chair is essential to ensure maximum well-being, functionality and independence, particularly for those who are perhaps unable to re-position themselves and therefore the chair needs to do some of the work.
One of the most common issues caused by long periods of sitting is discomfort to the skin and soft tissues which can get progressively worse leading to pressure ulcers. Reducing and relieving the pressure associated with prolonged sitting or lying is a considerable challenge within the healthcare industry. If this pressure is left unchecked, it can lead to skin and tissue damage, accelerate joint problems and result in the development of painful pressure ulcers. However, in most cases we know that pressure ulcers are avoidable and when it comes to seating, we have to concentrate on the following:
Seat width – Too wide and the chair offers no lateral support. Pressure may be directed onto one arm in an effort to prevent leaning. Too narrow results in pressure on the thighs and also creates an issue with getting in and out of the chair – especially if a sling needs fitting.
Seat Depth – Too long and the user’s feet will not reach the ground or footplate. More pressure is placed on the sacral area as the user slouches. Too short and a smaller area of the buttocks is supported causing body weight to be more concentrated.
Seat height – Too high and the user’s feet are unable to support body weight. Getting into the chair is also difficult and often results in poor sitting position. Too low and a smaller area of the buttocks is supported causing body weight to be more concentrated. Standing from the chair is also harder work.