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Postural Issues in Wheelchair Users

The basics of wheelchair use are all about knowing that your bones are connected in a way. This means that when one of them goes out of position, the body starts to behave the way it shouldn’t. Misalignment can cause a lot of pain and discomfort especially in someone that seats all day long in the same position.

When you look at a person in the wheelchair, what you don’t realize is that they stay in that position for most of the day. They don’t have the support from their legs the way non-disabled people are.

As a person using a wheelchair, you need to understand that your posture arises from a foundation made of the pelvis. The pelvis is the one that gives you the base to help you seat and move your body. It defines the posture you adopt.

In fact, if the pelvis hasn’t sat correctly on the base of the chair, then your whole body – right from the trunk to the shoulders can tilt or rotate without a lot of control.

Proper Seating and Positioning is Crucial

Are you wondering whether your seating and positioning system is the best? If so, then ask yourself whether you are comfortable and if you need to use any other equipment for the tasks you handle on a daily basis.

Proper positioning and seating is a major aspect of staying functional and doing the tasks that you want to do. When you are in the right position, you get the opportunity to perform your daily chores. Proper positioning also makes you stay comfortable, which means you can sit for longer periods of time without feeling tired or uncomfortable.

With proper support, you use less effort to sit up and control your body, which means you don’t place unnecessary pressure on your spine. With proper positioning comes improved digestion, breathing and swallowing as well.

However, you need to know that the ideal seating position varies from one person to another one depending on the weight and the height. Work with a clinician to tell you the perfect seating position for your body composition.

Signs the Seating Position is Poor

If the seating and positioning system isn’t working, you notice some signs that include:

  • Upper body pain. You experience neck, back and shoulder pain that is usually caused by lack of proper back support.
  • Leg falls off the footrest. If you aren’t properly seated, then your legs won’t be able to reach the footrest. Your footrest might need some adjustments or the use of additional supports.
  • Constant sliding forward. You might find yourself sliding forward with a constant need for position adjustment.

A great way to know if you are properly positioned is that you can reach the pushrim of the wheel or the joystick controller of the electric wheelchair.

Back Pain and Postural Issues in Wheelchair Users

As you sit and use the wheelchair frequently, you end up with back pain due to the weight placed on the spine. Since the spine is involved in your movement and handling of tasks, the chances of experiencing pain in your upper and lower back are high. This pain is due to compression of the spine that arises from poor posture. What you need for such a problem is to use spinal traction techniques from Free Your Spine to help decompress the spine.

You will notice this posture as one where you are slouched forward, head bent down and the shoulders rounded. This posture limits your range of motion, making it tough to handle some tasks.

The Bottom-line

Wheelchair users find it hard to maintain a specific posture because of the inability to control some parts of their bodies. However, with proper practice, you can sit comfortably and avoid the issues that come with poor posture.