Seating Equipment for Wheelchairs

In addition to the multiple features available in wheelchair frames, the seating equipment used in the wheelchair must also be considered. Seating equipment includes back supports, wheelchair cushions, head supports, foot supports, and any other supports that contact the person’s body. Seating equipment is critical because it effects postural alignment, comfort, function and pressure management. This section reviews research related to the effects of seating equipment and its set-up on posture and postural alignment, and on functional tasks. Cushions comparisons of commercially available and custom contoured cushions are researched with the focus being on trying to identify the optimal cushion characteristics for managing pressure, comfort and postural alignment. The final subsection reviews research related to changes in pressure in static sitting and dynamic sitting. The effect of the seating equipment on the client’s posture and pressure is often assessed in part using pressure mapping. This clinical tool is introduced first here as many of the studies in the subsequent sections use pressure mapping as one of their measurement tools.