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5 Tips for Improving Your Wheelchair Posture Support

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Having good posture support when sitting in a wheelchair is extremely important and is something which you should consider if you yourself use a wheelchair.  But why is wheelchair posture support so crucial? Read on to find out why.  

Some of the benefits may come as self-explanatory, such as the following:

  • Reduces stress on your body
  • Maintains comfort
  • Improves the maneuverability of the wheelchair
  • Reduces risk of injury
  • Decreases likelihood of pressure sores

Correct posture requires that each part of your body is in the right position in relation to the next, from your head down to your feet.  With that, each area of the body which is not positioned correctly, will have a knock-on effect on other areas of the body. For example, poor spinal posture can have a detrimental impact on a person’s diaphragm, flanks, and rib-cage. So, it is important to ensure your wheelchair fits well and provides good posture support for every part of your body.

Below are 5 tips to ensure good wheelchair posture support

Stabilise your pelvis through posture support

Your pelvis is the foundation of a good body position.  Start by ensuring your wheelchair seat is supporting and stabilising your pelvis.

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Check the seat size.  The correct depth ensures that you sit all the way back, with your weight spread evenly throughout your thighs and buttocks.  The correct width stops your pelvis from sliding to one side or twisting, which can damage skin and alter your spine position.  The seat angle can sometimes be adjusted as well, which can reduce forward slipping or provide more support if you have poor sitting balance. The Küschall K-Series, for example, is not only lightweight, but it can be adjusted to meet your seated position needs and preferences. 

Always ensure you use the right wheelchair cushion and it is well maintained, as the incorrect cushion can undo the posture support of a good seat.

Stabilise the ‘S’ curves of your spine through posture support

Your spine has 3 natural curves that provide the most stable position for your back.  If these curves are not properly supported, it can cause abnormal positions, discomfort and potential long-term damage.  

Ensure the back height and width are correct, as these support the lower curve of your back.  The back tension and back angle may also need to be adjusted to provide further posture support.  Or, for those with difficulty even in a well measured chair, additional back support systems may be required to properly align your spine.

How do you improve wheelchair posture support?

Sit upright, bring your shoulders back and ensure you are not slumping or leaning to one side.  If you cannot maintain this position, then the back of the wheelchair may not be providing sufficient posture support.

Support your feet for better wheelchair posture

Your feet support some of your weight and provide additional stability for your pelvis.  Insufficient foot support can pull your body out of alignment.  

Check that the height and position of the footplates are correct.  The height should place your hips and knees at right angles, and ensure your weight is evenly distributed.   If your feet are too far out in front, this tilts your pelvis and causes slouching or risk of pressure damage.  If they are tucked too far back, this pushes your pelvis the other way and alters the normal curves of your back.

Improve wheelchair posture with support for your arms 

Your arm position can pull your shoulders down or push them up, which affects the upper curves of your spine and your head position.  Ensure your armrests are the correct height to support your arms, keep your shoulders level and maintain the natural curves of your neck.

There are a number of armrests on the Invacare website which are height-adjustable. Such as, the Hemiplegic Armrest which has a shaped soft pad that is not only height-adjustable, but also angle-adjustable. 

Centralise your head for better overall posture support

Your head should be upright, in the middle, with your chin slightly tucked, and with sufficient stability to look in different directions.  If your head tilts forward, backwards or to one side this will pull your spine out of alignment and cause discomfort.

If you are unable to maintain a central head position after other parts of your posture have been stabilised, you may need additional neck or head support.

Use these tips provided to ensure your wheelchair is providing you good posture support from your head through to your feet. After all, for many of us, using a wheelchair day-in, day-out, is a necessity, and so, it’s far better to be safe and comfortable. You can read more on this topic by checking out the following article: Why Is Having A Comfortable Wheelchair So Important?

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