Michelle L. Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
The Dynamic Rocker Back Interface (DRBi) is a Dynamic Back that moves in response to client force. The elastomers in this Dynamic Back then return the client to an upright position. Some Dynamic Seating components “lock-out” or “latch” to temporarily render the component static. When should the DRBi be locked out?
The DRBi should remain unlatched, except when the wheelchair is being transported with the client in the chair. This feature is locked during transport to increase safety by eliminating movement in the wheelchair frame. Remember to unlatch the back as soon as the wheelchair and client leave the vehicle. This allows the client to take advantage of this dynamic feature.
Some clinicians have reported locking the back out during feeding in certain clients for safe swallowing – this needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Occasionally you may want to latch the DRBi when pushing a manual wheelchair over rough terrain to prevent excessive movement but remember to unlatch as soon as possible.
Some people have contacted us about client settings where DRBis are frequently latched and have asked what can be done to change this situation. Education about the equipment and how and why it works is essential. A DRBi which is latched when not being transported is not allowing the client to benefit from the dynamic feature.
The DRBi needs to be “un-weighted” to be latched or unlatched. To unweight, simply push the back cane push handles forward and up slightly to remove weight from the elastomers. If there is weight or pressure put on the DRBi, the elastomers are compressed, and the back cannot be latched smoothly. If you are still having difficulty with the latch mechanism, the elastomers may need replacing. If the DRBi is more than 1 year old, the elastomers should be inspected to ensure that they are still functioning properly and to determine if replacement is indicated. We have an elastomer replacement kit, as needed.
The ability to lock-out a dynamic component is important in specific circumstances, such as transportation and navigating rough terrain. For the rest of the time, however, unlatch that back and allow the client to move!