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Seating and Positioning Specialists
When the average lay person begins researching wheelchair specifications, he or she encounters many technical terms that are not explained. It's pretty confusing to look at commercial websites or literature for mobility devices because there is no glossary, only advertising lingo.
Building a wheelchair is a complex process. Each of its features must adequately fit one unique individual—YOU! And the sum of all the parts together must make sense.
Wheelchairs are customized with appropriate seat type and size (some are custom-molded), back height, cushion type, armrests and footrests (fixed and swing-away), back and neck supports, tilting or raising capabilities, comfort, style, and lifestyle considerations.
Not everyone uses a joystick so there are alternative control devices, such as a switch or sip and puff capability. Some patients need oxygen onboard, while others require an onboard AAC device. Skin must be protected with long-term sitting to minimize breakdown and pressure wounds.
That is why Seating and Positioning is a separate area of expertise in physical medicine.
We strongly recommend that everyone begin the process with a Seating and Positioning Specialist. They are well-versed in all aspects of function, support, and use, as well as working with insurance companies and processing Medicare forms.
It's not uncommon for consumers to know exactly what they want, based on what they've done before or based on how they've compensated for a deficit, but a seating specialist should broaden their patient's knowledge of equipment.
Your seating professional and a vendor will have quite a few questions for you in order to equip you with the most appropriate wheelchair and seating elements. The objective of your seating team is to get all essential requirements into one wheelchair.