Specifying chairs for people with Motor Neuron Disease can be particularly tricky because the symptoms and effects of the condition can vary so much. Choosing the right chair for your client can make all the difference in keeping them comfortable and well supported over time.
With that in mind, here are a few features you’ll need in chairs for people with Motor Neuron Disease and some recommended models.
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Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is an umbrella term that covers a range of different diseases and conditions that affect a person’s nerves in the spinal cord and brain. This disrupts the communication between the brain and the muscles leading them to get weaker, stiffer, and eventually waste away.
MND is most likely to affect adults over the age of 50, and there are around 5000 people living with MND in the UK. One of the most famous people to live with MND is the late Professor Stephen Hawking.
As MND progresses, the client will require more support from their chair.
The first thing to note when you’re specifying chairs for people with MND is that it’s almost always better to prescribe a care chair rather than a riser recliner. Care chairs are better equipped to suit the client’s needs over time as the disease progresses and typically, riser recliners will only offer temporary comfort and support.
When it comes to seating for MND, we always suggest that you choose a chair with an elevating legrest that is one single unit. This means that the seat and the legrest section are on a continuous piece that will provide support from the top of the thigh right down to the heel.
This will be integral as the client’s condition progresses and they require more support from their chair. Something like the Cura Air Chair is a good option for this with its continuous legrest feature.
In terms of positioning, the chair needs to offer a lot of flexibility and support in a variety of configurations.
People with MND tend to benefit from a care chair that has built-in tilt-in-space. By tilting the chair back, they can rest assured that their body is being supported and it allows them to maintain eye contact and conversation if they can no longer keep their head lifted.
Including an extra back angle option will also help massively as the client’s condition deteriorates. As MND progresses, it can affect the function of the lungs and make it particularly difficult to breathe.
The backrest recline will open up the chair so that the person’s upper body can be positioned at different angles to aid with ventilation and swallowing. This will also give the client a better visual field so that they can communicate and socialise with others.
To help keep their chest supported and open for respiration, you’ll need to consider extra arm supports. Ensuring that the client has adequate arm support will stop them from crossing their arms or hunching forwards, which could restrict their breathing.
You’ll also want to include a lateral backrest support in chairs for people with MND. With the client’s physical strength deteriorating, you need to ensure that their posture and positioning is maintained as well as possible at various stages of the disease.
So if your client is presenting low tone and reduced strength, including lateral support in your backrest will help them to maintain a midline position when seated for long periods of time.
The Lento is an excellent care chair for MND because it includes all kind of positioning options and can include a lateral backrest. The highly adjustable seating also means that you can change the chair as your client’s needs change so it will provide the correct support.
Unlike care chairs for other conditions, you may need to consider the addition of communication devices in the future. MND can cause you to lose the ability to move your mouth and speak, so your client might need to communicate a little differently in the future.
Including some anchor points in your chair will mean that your client can rest assured that they will be able to communicate over time. Some clients use tablets and computers, whereas others use eye movements and buttons by the side of their head – so make sure you consider these things in your assessment.
With your client’s mobility decreasing, they will be spending more time sitting down. With that in mind, including good, comfortable pressure relief in the chair is a must.
You should also include castors on the chair so that your client can be moved around with ease. This will help them to maintain mobility and quality of life.
With the client sat for long periods of time, they could end up getting warm or sweaty in the chair. For this, we’d recommend that you use a breathable wipe clean fabric to cover the chair.
These are the key things to include in chairs for people with MND to keep them comfortable and supported as their needs change over time. Ultimately, the Cura Air chair or the Lento are both good options to provide long-lasting optimum support.