Wheelchair - Seating Systems

Seating Systems

Wheelchair seating systems are designed for wheelchair users to redistribute pressure from areas of the body that are at risk of pressure ulcers. For someone in the sitting position, the parts of the body that are the most at risk for tissue breakdown include the ischial tuberosities, coccyx, sacrum and greater trochanters. Wheelchair cushions are also used to provide stability, comfort, aid posture and absorb shock.

Prior to 1970, little was known about the effectiveness of wheelchair cushions and there was not a clinical method of evaluating wheelchair seat cushions. Most recently, pressure imaging (or pressure mapping) is used to help determine each individual’s pressure distribution to properly determine and fit a seating system.

Cushions are prescribed by a patient’s rehabilitation or medical teams. Seating effectiveness is determined by immersion, envelopment and interface pressures. The first wheelchair seating clinic was established at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital. The clinic was primarily for patients with spinal cord injuries.

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