As we age, our bodies go through changes that can result in mobility and postural issues. One common problem that many elderly people experience is leaning to one side while sitting in a chair. This can be due to a range of factors, from incorrect pelvic positioning, skeletal disorders, or poor muscle tone.
Leaning to one side in a chair can be uncomfortable and lead to other problems, such as pressure sores and increased risk of falls. Fortunately, there are specialist chairs and accessories available that can help to address this problem and provide people with the support and comfort needed.
In this article we look at the issue of leaning to one side in a chair and how you can prevent this from happening.
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Conventional wisdom would dictate that the secret to solving a problem lies in understanding it. So what is it that someone lean to one side in their chair? The factors that can cause this issue fit conveniently into three main categories: the person, the chair, and the environment.
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a reduction of the chemical dopamine in the brain, which helps regulate movement. As the dopamine level in the brain reduces, balance problems occur and patients find it harder to control their posture while sitting. Another symptom of Parkinson’s is stiffness. If muscles become rigid on one side of the body it can cause patients to lean to one side.
Alzheimer’s patients tend to suffer with balance in the late stages of the disease as brain cells deteriorate. There is a specific kind of Alzheimer’s called posterior cortical atrophy, which affects balance in the brain, therefore causing leaning.
As we get older, our muscle mass decreases as a proportion of our overall body mass and we have less core strength. This makes it harder for someone to maintain an upright posture while seated.
Skeletal disorders like scoliosis occur where the spin twists and curves to one side. Scoliosis often develops in adolescence and the causes of the disease are not clear but can be genetic. It is characterised by a lean to one side and one shoulder blade being higher than the other. Sufferers of the disease often experience lower back pain, stiffness and fatigue. We cover a lot of other skeletal disorders and other postural abnormalities in Chapter 6 of our seating e-book.
Chronic back pain and sometimes nerve pain can occur as a result of the skeletal conditions outlined above. This can cause stiffness on one side, and sufferers often lean to one side to relieve the pain, particularly where nerves in the spine are affected.
Seat measurement in the context of specialist seating is the number one factor when considering a person’s posture and comfort because having the right seat dimensions can significantly impact the user’s comfort, support, and posture. A seat that is too small or too large can cause discomfort, pressure points, and poor alignment, which can exacerbate existing conditions or lead to new postural problems over time.
For example, if a chair is too small for the user, it can cause them to hunch over and place additional strain on their neck and shoulders, which can result in pain and discomfort. On the other hand, if the chair is too large, the user may struggle to maintain proper posture and could experience pressure points or circulation issues.
Additionally, seat measurement is especially important for those with conditions such as scoliosis or kyphosis, as these conditions can affect the shape of the spine and require custom seating solutions. A properly measured and fitted chair can provide the necessary support and alignment to alleviate discomfort and promote better posture.
Lateral support is an important consideration when selecting patient chairs for healthcare facilities. If a patient does not have enough strength and support on each side of their upper body to ‘hold’ them in the chair they will tend to fall to one side.
Patients with conditions such as muscle weakness, spasticity, cerebral palsy, stroke, and postural collapse require optimal lateral support to prevent leaning to one side and to maintain good posture.
When selecting lateral support cushions, it is important to consider the material and design. Cushions should be made from high-quality materials and be adjustable to accommodate individualised positioning. This ensures that each patient receives optimal support and comfort, reducing the risk of discomfort and pain.
Selecting patient chairs with lateral support accessories is essential to maintain good posture and prevent health complications in patients with conditions that inhibit lateral support.
Pelvic positioning is an important factor in maintaining proper posture while sitting. When the pelvis is not in the correct position, it can cause the body to lean to one side. This can be due to a range of factors, including weak muscles, injury, or deformity. Specialist seating can help address pelvic positioning issues by providing lateral supports and a wide range of adjustability options.
Specialist seating can help address pelvic positioning issues by providing lateral supports and a wide range of adjustability options. Our lento patient treatment and therapy chairs are designed specifically to help with this and other regularly occurring issues.
The position of the pelvis in relation to the rest of the body is a key driver in postural science and we have dedicated chapter 5 to this topic in our seating e-book.
You may puzzle slightly at how the external environment can affect a patient’s lean but consider the following. The direction that the windows are facing in a room and where the patient is situated may be causing them to lean to avoid the glare of strong sunlight. Have you ever been blinded by a mirror reflecting light into your eyes? It can be easy to overlook such mundane factors as these, but careful consideration of the patient’s physical environment can bring surprising results.
Having looked at the causes of the issue, this leads us on to look at the effects that prolonged leaning in a chair can have.
Increased pressure on the skin for long periods of time can cause pressure sores, particularly on bony areas like elbows or buttocks. They are more likely to develop if someone is leaning and resting heavily on one part of the body. With pressure sores, the skin and underlying tissue deteriorates, and they can progress and become very serious if not treated properly. Treating pressure sores coasts the NHS more than £3.8 million everyday so this is seen as a major issue in hospitals. At vivid.care, we have done extensive research into what our products can do to help the issue and have dedicated a section to this in our seating e-book, see chapter 7.
As well as spinal deformities causing leaning, the reverse is true, so it is important to make sure postural issues are corrected when choosing the right type of seating so that a vicious cycle is not created.
Bad posture can cause muscle spasms and cramps, and even lead to complications like trapped nerves and intestinal problems.
So what can we do to stop someone leaning in a chair?
Choosing the correct seat dimensions is critical to ensure the chair fits the patient, and this will go a long way in minimising any leaning or postural issues. It is important to remember that seat size and posture are inextricably linked. Vivid.Care seating specialists are trained to measure the correct seat dimensions for any client. There are fully adjustable chairs available such as the Lento Mobile patient treatment rise and recliner chair that feature multiple adjustments ensuring a perfect fit for 80% of the adult population.
Supportive cushions are an essential component of specialist seating for patients who require additional support while sitting. One such chair that is ideal for these environments is the Lento Mobile, a wheeled option that has been designed to provide maximum comfort and support.
The Lento Mobile chair can be fitted with a range of supportive cushions, which attach to the chair via infection control friendly magnetic fastenings. These cushions include the standard waterfall backrest, as well as attachable cocoon, wedge, and horseshoe cushions. Each of these cushions has been specifically designed to provide support to different parts of the body and can be tailored to the individual needs of the patient.
A waterfall backrest is the standard cushion option on the Lento Mobile patient treatment rise and recline chair that provides full back support making it an ideal choice for individuals with spinal injuries or conditions that require additional support for the spine. This cushion is designed to reduce pressure on the lower back and promote proper posture, which can help to alleviate discomfort and pain.
The design of the waterfall backrest allows for even weight distribution along the entire length of the spine, which can help reduce pressure on specific areas of the back and provide a more comfortable and supportive seating experience.
The waterfall backrest is particularly beneficial for individuals who spend long periods of time sitting in a chair, as it can help improve posture and reduce the risk of developing back pain or discomfort. It can also be helpful for individuals who are recovering from spinal injuries or surgery, as it provides additional support and can aid in the recovery process.
The cushion is designed to fit securely onto the Lento Mobile chair, providing a stable and comfortable seating experience for patients. The magnetic attachment allows for easy removal and reattachment, making it easy to adjust the cushion as needed for individual patient needs.
One of the primary benefits of the waterfall backrest is its ability to improve posture and reduce strain on the spine. By supporting the back in a gentle, curved position, the cushion helps to distribute weight more evenly across the spine, reducing pressure on specific areas and helping to prevent pain and discomfort. This can be particularly important for individuals who are recovering from surgery or who have chronic pain conditions that make it difficult to maintain a proper seated position.
By providing a supportive and comfortable seating experience, the waterfall backrest can improve the quality of life for patients and aid in their recovery or treatment. It can also reduce the risk of developing further spinal injuries or conditions, as it promotes proper posture and reduces pressure on specific areas of the back.
In addition to improving posture and reducing pain, the waterfall backrest can also improve overall comfort and quality of life for individuals who use it. By providing full back support, the cushion can help to reduce fatigue and muscle strain, making it easier for individuals to remain seated for longer periods of time. This can be especially important for individuals who use wheelchairs or who have limited mobility, as it can help to reduce the risk of pressure sores and other complications that can arise from extended periods of sitting.
Overall, the waterfall backrest is a valuable tool for individuals who require additional support for the spine and back. Whether you are recovering from surgery, managing a chronic pain condition, or simply require additional support for extended periods of sitting, the waterfall backrest can provide the comfort and support you need to improve your quality of life and aid in your recovery or treatment.
The cocoon cushion is a supportive cushion designed to provide individuals with a high level of comfort and support while sitting in a chair. This cushion is ideal for individuals who require additional support for the upper body, including the neck, shoulders, and back. The cocoon cushion gets its name from its unique design, which surrounds the individual in a cushioned “cocoon,” providing a high level of support and comfort.
The cocoon cushion is particularly helpful for individuals with neck or shoulder pain, as it helps to provide support and alleviate pressure on these areas. It is also an excellent choice for individuals with spinal injuries or chronic pain conditions that require additional support for the upper body.
One of the primary benefits of the cocoon cushion is its ability to promote proper alignment and reduce strain on the upper body. By surrounding the individual in a cushioned cocoon, the cushion helps to distribute weight more evenly across the upper body, reducing pressure on specific areas and helping to prevent pain and discomfort.
In addition to providing support and reducing pain, the cocoon cushion can also improve overall comfort and quality of life for individuals who use it. By providing a high level of cushioning and support, the cushion can help to reduce fatigue and muscle strain, making it easier for individuals to remain seated for longer periods of time. This can be particularly important for individuals who use wheelchairs or who have limited mobility, as it can help to reduce the risk of pressure sores and other complications that can arise from extended periods of sitting.
Overall, the cocoon cushion is an excellent choice for individuals who require additional support and comfort while sitting in a chair. Whether you are recovering from surgery, managing a chronic pain condition, or simply require additional support for extended periods of sitting, the cocoon cushion can provide the comfort and support you need to improve your quality of life and aid in your recovery or treatment.
The horseshoe cushion is a supportive cushion designed to provide individuals with a high level of comfort and support while sitting in a chair. The cushion gets its name from its unique shape, which resembles a horseshoe. This design provides support for the lower back, hips, and thighs, making it an excellent choice for individuals who require additional support in these areas.
The horseshoe cushion is particularly helpful for individuals who experience pain or discomfort in the lower back, hips, or thighs. It can provide relief by distributing weight more evenly across these areas, reducing pressure and strain on specific points. This can be particularly important for individuals with conditions such as sciatica or herniated discs, as the cushion can help to alleviate pain and improve comfort.
One of the primary benefits of the horseshoe cushion is its ability to promote proper posture and alignment. By supporting the lower back and hips, the cushion helps to maintain a neutral spinal position, reducing strain on the spine and surrounding muscles. This can be particularly important for individuals who sit for extended periods of time, as poor posture can lead to muscle strain, fatigue, and pain.
In addition to providing support and reducing pain, the horseshoe cushion can also improve overall comfort and quality of life for individuals who use it. By providing a high level of cushioning and support, the cushion can help to reduce fatigue and muscle strain, making it easier for individuals to remain seated for longer periods of time. This can be particularly important for individuals who use wheelchairs or who have limited mobility, as it can help to reduce the risk of pressure sores and other complications that can arise from extended periods of sitting.
Overall, the horseshoe cushion is a versatile and effective tool for providing targeted support and alleviating discomfort while sitting and may require additional support and comfort. It can be particularly helpful for individuals recovering from surgery or managing conditions that cause pain or discomfort while seated.
With its unique shape and customisable design, the horseshoe cushion can provide tailored support to meet your specific needs and improve your quality of life. By reducing pressure on key points and promoting proper alignment, the horseshoe cushion can aid in recovery or treatment and help you achieve greater comfort and mobility.
Another solution to prevent individuals from leaning in their chairs is lateral support and wedge cushions. These cushions are designed to provide additional support to the sides of the user’s torso and pelvis, helping to keep them in an upright position.
Having enough lateral support in the chair will help counteract any natural lean in the patient. There are different types across our seating ranges covered in our seating e-book and some can be built into the backrest.
Lateral support cushions are designed to support the user’s upper body and prevent them from leaning to one side. Supportive cushions can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have muscle weakness, spasticity, or poor trunk control.
Wedge cushions, on the other hand, are designed to tilt the pelvis forward, helping to maintain a neutral spinal alignment. These cushions can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have a posterior pelvic tilt, which can lead to back pain and poor posture.
At Vivid Care, we offer a range of lateral support and wedge cushions to aid postural support and suit a range of different needs and preferences. Our cushions are made from high-quality materials and are designed to provide maximum support and comfort.
It’s important to note that lateral support and wedge cushions should be used in conjunction with a properly fitted chair. A trained assessor or occupational therapist can help determine the appropriate cushion and chair combination for each individual’s needs.
Choosing the correct motorised action in the chair gives your patient the ability to ‘tilt-in-space’, i.e. pivot backwards in the chair whilst maintaining the same seat angle. This sitting position distributes pressure more evenly across contact points and helps centralise their position in the chair.
The general wellbeing of the patient is an important factor in maintaining a confident and upright body posture. Having a balanced diet and getting regular access to fresh air and sunlight can all help improve mental wellbeing.
To conclude, leaning is an issue we come across in many applications and can become a serious problem over time if not corrected. There are many factors that contribute to leaning but the choice and specification of chair is a key ingredient in resolving the issue.
Supportive cushions are a crucial component of any specialist seating solution, especially for those with specific medical conditions or mobility needs. The Lento Mobile chair, along with our range of attachable cushions, provides a comfortable and supportive seating option that can cater to a wide range of patient needs.
All of our attachable cushions are designed to be easily attached to the Lento Mobile rise and recline patient treatment chair via magnetic fastening, providing a secure and comfortable seating experience for patients. Whether you’re looking for a supportive cushion to alleviate discomfort or a wheeled chair for enhanced mobility, the Lento Mobile and our range of attachable supportive cushions can provide the ideal seating solution for your needs.
If you are looking for a solution to stop leaning to one side in a chair, Vivid Care is here to help. We offer a range of specialist seating solutions that meet the unique needs of patients in healthcare facilities throughout the UK.
With lateral support accessories designed to meet the unique needs of individuals with different conditions. Our specialist seating is designed to provide comfort and support, reducing the risk of pressure sores and musculoskeletal disorders.
To ensure optimal lateral support, it is essential to select the right chair size and accessories. Our trained assessors and occupational therapists can help determine the appropriate chair size and lateral support accessories for each patient, taking into account their unique needs and preferences.
If you would like to arrange a seating assessment, or do you want more information on the Vivid.Care seating range? Please get in touch with our team.