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A Guide to Correct Use of Footrests

Posted by / January 31, 2018 / Categories: Inside Recliners, Occupational Therapy

Correct use of a footrest can make life significantly more comfortable for your patients and reduce the risk of pressure injuries. Here we share some quick tips on getting it right.

It’s normal for us to think of our feet and legs taking all the weight when we’re standing, but did you know that nearly one fifth of our bodyweight is distributed through this area when we are sitting as well?

For this reason it’s essential to provide the feet and legs with adequate support. Supporting the feet can significantly reduce the risk of pressure injuries, improve circulation and help a patient feel more stable and comfortable in their chair.  Many Recliners chairs come with footrests as standard and in this post we’ll explain how to correctly use them to ensure maximum comfort for your patient.

The most important consideration is that the feet are flat on the footplate.

To do this, adjust the chair first, rather than the footplate itself. Start with the seat depth. The aim is for the hamstrings to be flat on the chair. Knees should not be overhanging; adjust so that the calves are lightly touching the chair (if the depth is too short the calves will be pressing into the chair)

Likewise, the height of the chair should be adjusted until the feet rest flat on the footplate. Ideally, the patient’s weight will be equally distributed through the foot as it rests on the footplate. If the seat height is too short there might be pressure on the ankles – too high and the knees will feel the strain as the feet hang in the air.

Once you have adjusted the height and depth of the chair to the above specifications, move the angle of the footplate so that the feet are as flat as possible. The base of the toes and the heels should be pressing equally into the footrest.

Other considerations

Movement – Some patients will move more than others. Lots of movement means the risk of the feet becoming out of position on the footrest. In this case we recommend adding support cushions around the thighs and calves. Don’t restrict movement entirely, but do position the padding so that the patient’s legs will naturally find the correct position again.

Tilt in Space – Many Recliners chairs come with a Tilt In Space feature, which is a great way to help redistribute pressure and alter position throughout the day. When adjusting the angle of a chair with the Tilt In Space mechanism, you should not need to make any alterations to the position of the footrest, as long as it is correctly positioned in the manner outlined above.

Overall, correct use of a footrest will help make your patient feel far more comfortable and supported in their chair, while reducing the risk of a number of injuries.

If you have any further questions or require a demonstration of one of our chairs, please contact us. Email info@recliners.org.uk or call 01443 431000.

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