Michelle L. Lange, OTR/L, ABDA, ATP/SMS
Our most-read blog is one that defines Dynamic Seating. That initial blog was posted about 4 years ago, so I wanted to revisit this foundational topic.
Definitions and terminology may not seem very exciting but are very important. It is critical that we each know exactly what assistive technology or intervention is being recommended or used. The initial definition of 4 years ago was based primarily on my understanding of this technology with input from colleagues who also work with this intervention. Since that time, an international workgroup has been formed, the International Dynamic Seating Workgroup (IDSW). This group has met several times and agreed upon a formal definition of Dynamic Seating:
“Dynamic Seating is movement which occurs within the seating system and/or wheelchair frame in response to intentional or unintentional force generated by the client. Dynamic components absorb force. When client force ceases, the stored energy is returned through the dynamic component, which in turn assists the client back to a starting position.”
A subcommittee of the IDSW has completed a RESNA Position Paper on the Application of Dynamic Seating. This paper not only defines Dynamic Seating but provides clinical guidelines and an extensive literature review. Some literature uses the term Dynamic Seating to refer to other types of intervention. Again, it is critical to be clear.
So, what’s the bottom line? Most wheelchairs and seating systems are static. If the client moves, they will move separate of the seating and wheelchair frame. Dynamic Seating moves with the client, providing support during movement to maintain the client’s position and provide stability for function. Dynamic seating diffuses force and allows movement for vestibular input.
As one clinician put it, “Why wouldn’t we allow clients to move?” I agree!