Education in Motion / Webinars / Seating Technology: An Analytical Approach

Seating Technology: An Analytical Approach

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Clinicians working in seating and mobility have a wider choice of seating materials, shapes, and technology than at any point in the past. Understanding the relationship between human biomechanics, seating shapes, and materials is essential for the most successful outcomes for clients with mobility needs. This one-hour session will review the key factors in posture, skin integrity & function, and how to provide seating technology to meet those needs.


At the conclusion of this educational session, participants will be able to do the following:

  1. Identify the four major factors in skin breakdown and how to approach them in clinical decision-making.
  2. Articulate at least one advantage and disadvantage of the most common wheelchair seating cushion materials.
  3. Describe the seating factors for pelvic and spinal postural asymmetries in seating.
Faith Brown, OT

Presented by Faith Brown, OT

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for bringing this up, as standards vary not only between countries, but within countries and regions for which side to use when naming pelvic obliquity.

It's fine to use the low or the high side, but it is critical to say whether you are using the low or high side. "Right side lower pelvic obliquity" and "left side higher pelvic obliquity" are both correct and allow clinicians to communicate effectively. Trouble comes when a prescriber uses the phrase (for example) "Right obliquity" without saying whether it's the high or low side.

Even in rarely truly hot Britain, the heat and moisture levels at the skin surface are a recognized factor in skin integrity. These effects are all the more important to consider in an even warmer climate.

Would suggest you have a look at the two-part blog on microclimate here on the Education in Motion website. There are also some useful resources on Education in Motion with downloadable, printable resources that go into properties in more detail here.

Gel polymers feel cool initially but warm up to body temperature quickly and can be a little sweaty due to the plastic top layer, although toweling or thick air exchange-type covers (like 3D spacer) can help.

Fluid-type cushions (for example JAY 2, JAY Fusion, Ottobock Floam, Invacare Solution) are generally a little cooler but tend to warm up similarly. There is one significant exception to this in that one new fluid cushion has special technology to manage microclimate. Further details are in the links above.

Cushions with air-exchange covers, base material with channels for airflow can help allow moisture to evaporate, which can help with skin cooling.

Seat rake means the angle of the seat rails, also "fixed tilt" and sometimes in the U.S., "dump." If the front seat-to-floor height is much higher than the rear, there is a lot of rake/fixed tilt/dump. If the seat is level, there isn't any.

Gel is a polymer, often silicone-based, that has a consistency much like a firm gelatin and compresses slightly rather than displacing. Fluid flows from one place to another within its containing sac, so is better for immersion than gel. For a more thorough discussion and printable resource, check out "Material Selection in Cushions" here on Education in Motion.

Yes, stabilization is key for performance and tolerance, and even a feeling of "comfort." Because of this, wheelchair use tolerance is sometimes a better measure of cushion efficacy. A very soft foam cushion may feel comfortable initially, but then harden over time or feel unstable, meaning that a client can't use it as long.

High level cushions often combine materials to achieve a balance of comfort and stability, for example by having a dense foam base with a soft top layer and then fluid under the pelvis, plus positioning inserts to stabilize. For more information, check out the "Cushion Design Principles" resource here on Education in Motion.

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DISCLAIMER: FOR PROFESSIONAL USE ONLY. THIS WEBSITE (AND THE DOCUMENTS REFERENCED HEREIN) DO NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Sunrise Medical (US) LLC (“Sunrise”) does not provide clinician services. The information contained on this website (and the documents referenced herein), including, but not limited to, the text, graphics, images, and descriptions, are for informational purposes only and should be utilized as a general resource for clinicians and suppliers to then use clinical reasoning skills to determine optimal seating and mobility solutions for individual patients. No material on this website (or any document referenced herein) is intended to be used as (or a substitute for) professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard your professional medical training when providing medical advice or treatment because of something you have read on this website (or any document referenced herein). Clinicians should review this (and any other materials) carefully and confirm information contained herein with other sources. Reliance on this website (and the information contained herein) is solely at your own risk.