Tag Archives: Wheelchair suspension

Why should we care about dynamic seating with wheelchairs?

I sit still all the time. Hopefully you can see the sarcasm as I write this. My parents have told me from the time I was born, I have moved constantly. When we seat our patients in wheelchairs it is imperative to know that our patients move. Just because one is in a wheelchair and their ambulation is compromised does not mean movement comes to an end.

What is this? A suspension for a manual tilt-in-space wheelchair. These can be added to help make the patient’s ride in their chair more comfortable. Especially helpful going over thresholds. Unfortunately not normally covered by insurances but well worth the $399 to have the pair installed.

Think as you read this blog how many times you move. So what does this mean for wheelchair users whether they are a 8-year-old CP patient or a 85-year-old dementia patient? They want to move in their chair just as much as you do. The average person moves every 20-30 seconds shifting in their seat, moving their arms, etc.

Some of the items I never considered dynamic (i.e. which means movement) would be air bladders on cushions (i.e. A Roho cushion) or even stretchable shoulder harnesses. These are nice because even though the patient may be in a wheelchair, it allows for movement.

At Howard’s I have a handful of patients who have broken footrests because they push on them throughout the day. There are dynamic wheelchair footrests on the market that actually extend and then retract with a spring allowing the wheelchair user to fidget in their chair.

One of my favorite items we learned about is someone has finally made a suspension system for tilt-in-space wheelchairs. No one in their right mind would ever drive a car without suspension. Today’s mountain bikes have a suspension system. Wheelchair users complain that going over thresholds can cause them pain. We can now install a suspension system to let your loved one to help with “impact dampening.” I put the words “impact dampening” in parentheses because if we ever were to have them covered by insurance this is how it has to be phrased because insurance do not count comfort.

Dynamic Footrests move when you press against them. What you see here is one footrest (on the left) that has a spring in it and moves out. The other footrest (on the right) goes out and articulates up too.

If you have questions about dynamic seating, give us a call at Howard’s and talk to one of our two ATP’s on staff.

Erik Mickelson
Erik is the CEO and ATP of Howard’s Medical a local durable medical equipment supplier in Yakima, Washington that has four locations in Ellensburg, Selah, Yakima and Sunnyside in Central Washington. I will be blogging this week from the ISS (International Seating Symposium) in Nashville, Tennessee.