November: A Busy Month in Review, Rebecca Dunstall, CareFlex Clinical Specialist

November – what a month! I have been travelling all around the UK, facilitating learning events. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with new (and catching up with old) like-minded Clinicians – it is always a pleasure helping others on their specialist seating journey.

A particular highlight this month was being invited to be a Speaker at the OT Show and having the opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of postural care in sitting – something I never turn down! The OT Show was incredible this year, with the most engaging Occupational Therapists who truly desire to learn more about the benefits of specialist seating and how they can implement postural care as a critical intervention in their clinical practice. We had visitors to our stand with real-life challenges. Together, we figured out practical solutions using our all-new SmartSeatPro II for those with the most complex postural presentations. We also had lots of positive feedback for our monthly webinar series, so we cannot wait to repeat this in the new year.

My session at the show focussed on the holistic approach to specialist seating for those with complex disabilities. This was certainly a passion project for me, and I was thrilled to get this superb platform to speak about how we can support those individuals who need us to advocate on their behalf. The objective was for the insight gained during the session to support and inform Occupational Therapists’ clinical practice. We explored the world of seating and how it can aid in optimum 24-hour postural care for individuals with complex disabilities. Valuable key guidance was provided for Occupational Therapists to navigate common postural challenges and their seating solutions for holistic and, thus, effective equipment provision.

Posture is directly related to a person’s health, well-being, and quality of life. There are physical, psychological, and emotional effects of body shape distortion, and poor postural care can have severe and life-threatening consequences1. An individual sitting in unsupported postures can experience pain, fatigue, dependency, and poor physiological function. Gravity and its effects can also trap individuals in destructive postures, exaggerating asymmetries and leading to unequal loading on tissues.

Postural care is a holistic approach aiming to preserve or restore body shape for individuals with movement difficulties and complex presentations. People with profound and multiple learning disabilities, for example, often sit in restricted positions due to limited functional movement, leading to a high risk of postural deterioration. Individuals on their rehabilitation journey following a stroke or traumatic brain injury can present with other challenges to postural control, such as muscle weakness or tonal changes. Those with long-term neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease can also find it difficult to achieve postural security due to abnormal movement patterns or sensory challenges.

Postural care addresses all body segments and positions an individual adopts throughout the 24 hours2 and ensures the appropriate and timely provision of specialist equipment and interventions. Body distortion is not inevitable, and the right equipment and positioning techniques can help to protect body shape1. Specialist seating is a prescriptive medical device that is a critical aspect of optimum postural care; it is complex, challenging, and overwhelming, but it can also change the lives of individuals for the better. My aim, as always, was to raise awareness of specialist seating by breaking the topic down into manageable proportions that are accessible and conducive to effective learning whilst ensuring an environment that allows us to question, reflect and learn.

As 2022 draws to a close, I look back on all the learning events we have facilitated over the year and feel proud that at CareFlex, we take our responsibility as a seating provider seriously and will continue to play our part in supporting, educating, and raising awareness. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any clinical queries or to arrange a free no-obligation seating assessment.

References

1

Public Health England (2018) Postural care and people with learning disabilities: guidance Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/postural-care-services-making-reasonable-adjustments/postural-care-and-people-with-learning-disabilities

2

Crawford S, Curran A (2014) 24-hour postural management for community-dwelling adults with learning disabilities Posture and Mobility: The Journal of the Posture and Mobility Group 31:15-19