Patients who spend a large amount of time seated face the danger of kyphosis – forward curvature of the spine caused by slouching and poor posture. Long term effects of kyphosis include everything from temporary back pain and difficulties in breathing, to pressure injuries and long term muscular deformation.
Why Does It Happen?
Kyphosis from a seated position occurs when the chair does not provide enough support for the lumbar spine. When this happens the patient will often lean back in their chair and slide their buttocks forwards to increase their stability. While they may feel initially more stable, this position results in increased curvature and pressure on the lumbar spine.
Correct Seated Posture
Ideal seated posture should match the patient’s natural ‘upright lordosis’ – the inward curve of the spine that occurs when they are in a standing position. In this position a patient puts significantly less pressure on their discs, joints and inner organs. Simple actions such as eating and breathing become easier, and the chance of pressure injuries is reduced. When seating a patient, it is this inward curvature that we are looking to replicate.
Every Patient has Individual Lordosis
It is important to note that every patient will have unique postural requirements, and that the correct curve of the spine will vary from person to person. Just as we must be careful to help our patients avoid slouching, we must also avoid ‘hyperlordodis’, where the lumbar spine is being forced further forwards than it would naturally go.
At Recliners our solution to this is our pressure care foam cushions. The upper layer of these is made from a material called Vasco – a Visco-Elastic cellular polymer – which moulds to the client’s form. Many of our chairs also come with a range of back options as standard, making it easy for you as an O.T to adapt the chair to your client’s unique needs.
Providing Extra Support
In a small amount of cases, usually where the client has pronounced lumbar lordosis and there still exists some space between their back and the chair, the moulding of the foam cushions will not be enough to provide the support they need. For this reason we can always provide you with cushions or pads for extra support.
When placing these cushions or pads, try and choose a fit that is tight enough that it will not slip out of place easily, but does not place undue pressure on the back.
For any help and advice on seating patients with lumbar difficulties, and correct positioning of support cushions, feel free to contact us. We’re always happy to help.