When An Elastomer Goes Flat… The Story of J and the Flattened Elastomers

Jill Sparacio, OTR/L, ATP/SMS, ABDA

Clearly, Something Was Different

Some basic items need to be routinely checked when using dynamic wheelchair components. Usually the idea of routine “maintenance” worries me, however what I found can be easily checked.

This is the story of J and the flattened elastomers. J is a young man with an incredibly strong extensor tone pattern that usually initiates in his hips. He uses a Seating Dynamics Dynamic Rocker Back to absorb these forces. He resides in a long term care facility and has multiple caregivers who have known him for many years.

I was receiving complaints from his caregivers that he “just doesn’t look right in his wheelchair anymore”. When passing him, I also noticed that he was no longer sitting on his seat. Instead, his feet were firmly planted on his footplates, with hips extended and his buttocks lifted off of the seat. His arching/extension pattern had returned. At times, the staff were unable to get his feet on his footplates due to this extension. Others commented that he sat much better if his feet were left hanging off the front edge of his footplates. Observation revealed a more exaggerated, compromised posture with his hips far forward on his seat.

Bottom line, something was different.

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