The Role of Specialist Seating in Promoting Comfort

One of the most common requests we hear from customers is: “I want to be comfortable”.

This seems like such an easy goal to achieve but everyone has their own ideas on what being comfortable actually means. To some it could mean feeling safe, to others it could mean feeling content, to those using other specialist equipment it could mean the opportunity for some freedom, and to those who experience pain it could mean finally being able to relax. 

When specialist seating systems are used appropriately, and are tailored to the individual, quality of life can be significantly improved.

Why is Comfort Important?

As a person gets older, various health issues can make it harder for them to sit comfortably and safely. They typically become weaker with gravity having more of an influence on their ability to remain upright. Consequently, they can experience fatigue and their ability to engage in daily life becomes affected.

Promoting comfort is also critical for those who lack the ability and/or cognition to change position themselves. A lack of a regular change of position can increase the risk of pressure injuries and irreversible postural challenges, undeniably affecting comfort levels. Individuals with complex disabilities can present with abnormal muscle tone and movements, which are associated with painful spasms and reflexes.

Comfort is equally important when working with individuals who experience a more sedentary lifestyle, as might be seen in those with increased body weight and size. Spending longer periods of time in a seated position can result in stiffness and chronic pain.

Prolonged periods of time in abnormal postures or inadequate seating can inevitably lead to discomfort.

Ultimately, regardless of the clinical benefits, the individual may not use the chair if they are not comfortable1. Thus, promoting comfort is what will essentially encourage compliance with the chair and consistency with its use, resulting in improved outcomes.

How Can Discomfort Impact Quality of Life?

Comfort can encompass all aspects of seating and its objectives, from pain management to energy conservation and postural support.

Proper positioning through appropriate seating can decrease fatigue whilst helping to alleviate chronic discomfort and maximise function2. A good sitting posture can also be effective in inhibiting abnormal muscle tone and in accommodating its sequelae3, which can have a significant impact on reducing pain levels associated with spasticity.

The ability to feel comfortable can even be impacted by an individual’s health and wellbeing. A major goal in postural management is to enhance autonomic nervous system function4. A person’s inability to sit upright can result in increased dependence and decline in overall health over time, primarily reflecting altered physiological function5. Trunk asymmetry and poor head position can impair:

  • Respiration
  • Cardiac efficiency
  • Swallow  function
  • Digestion

This can have a detrimental affect on comfort as resulting problems, such as infection and constipation, can cause significant pain. By promoting optimum physiological function, we can directly address the potential causes of discomfort.

How Can CareFlex Help?

Comfort is subjective. In order to achieve comfort, the customer must be involved throughout the assessment and prescription process. At CareFlex, we understand that the customer is at the centre and we ensure that their views are respected, along with all those involved in their care.

CareFlex specialist seating systems offer many functions and accessories that promote comfort. Back angle recline can open up the hip angle for a more relaxed position, tilt-in-space can manage energy levels, and a waterfall back can securely support the client within the chair.

Keep an eye out for our next blog with more detailed hints and tips for promoting comfort through specialist seating, and ultimately improving quality of life.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to book a free no-obligation assessment.

References:

  1. Bartley C, Stephens M (2017) Evaluating the impact of WaterCell® Technology on pressure redistribution and comfort/discomfort of adults with limited mobility Journal of Tissue Viability 26(2):144-149
  2. Cook AM, Hussey SM (2002) Assistive Technologies Principles and Practice St Louis: Mosby
  3. Herman JH, Lange ML (1999) Seating and positioning to manage spasticity after brain injury Neurorehabilitation 12(2):105-117
  4. Jones M, Gray S (2005) Assistive technology: positioning and mobility In SK Effgen (Ed) Meeting the Physical Therapy Needs of Children Philadelphia: FA
  5. Healy A, Ramsey C, Sexsmith E (1997) Postural support systems: their fabrication and functional use Developmental Medicine and Children Neurology 39:706-710