When you consider the range of available paediatric seating, you can tell how much R&D has gone into specialist seating and wheelchairs.
Shower chairs, however, have lagged behind when it comes to adaptability and comfort. And this means occupational therapists have been restricted to prescribing chairs that fall short of what users need.
This blog explores the key areas that cause problems when it comes to shower chairs, along with features that help mitigate these risks.
Perhaps the biggest difference between paediatric and adult users is the fact that children grow. It sounds obvious, but many of the shower chair options on the market fail to properly account for this basic fact.
Most chairs come in 3 to 5 sizes, forcing you to prescribe new ones as users grow. As such, the chairs have short life spans, and this is often reflected in the quality of the construction and frame.
What’s more, growth spurts often complicate the process. Since 2 to 4 months can easily pass between your initial assessment and chair delivery, OTs often find the user has outgrown the chair by the time it arrives. Which means you have to start again with a new assessment.
You escape this cycle by prescribing chairs that grow with the user. It’s not just about incremental adjustments – look for ones that let you be precise so that you can meet the user’s needs exactly. You then have single, stainless steel frame that lasts to adulthood, with modular components you can easily swap and adjust. This not only makes life easier for users and carers, but it makes your life easier, too.
Think about the time you spend on assessments – having a chair that grows with the user means you’re only doing 1 assessment instead of 4 or 5.
Postural support and comfort
As children grow, their posture changes – which means their support needs change as well. More often than not, children require chairs with better postural support than adults. Think about scoliosis and other spinal conditions (and the various surgeries children undergo as a result). These cause dramatic changes to postural requirements, and the shower chair needs to adapt accordingly.
Generally, shower chairs aren’t as comfortable as specialist seats and wheelchairs, and design trends have gone this way because users are only in them for short periods of time. However, uncomfortable seats can lead to pressure-related injuries, and cause users to perch rather than sit. Having a seat with appropriate padding where the aperture is designed for easy positioning is therefore an important consideration.
Another key difference between adult and paediatric users is the fact that children are more prone to seizures. This means that chairs should have the requisite safety features.
Having a chair with tilt-in-space that goes back those extra few degrees into a better recovery position enhances safety, as do straps and padding that help keep users steady. These sound like small features, but they help maximise carer and user safety alike.
These 3 considerations help users, carers and OTs
When you prescribe shower chairs that grow with the user, offer exactly the right postural support and have additional safety features, you make it easier for users and carers to deal with bathing and toileting. You also avoid the common pitfalls associated with growth spurts and poor padding, and free yourself from time-consuming paperwork.
For a demonstration of how adjustments and postural support work, watch this video of the RAZ ATP shower chair (and from 2:45 you can see how Camden, a pupil at Linton Park School in Maidstone, uses the chair).
We are committed to ensuring our customers get the best possible care from their equipment, and are always on hand to answer any questions in relation to pressure relief within our range of shower chairs.
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