Last week we talked about the risks of immobility for power wheelchair users. Although the risks are real, there are ways to minimize these risks through MOVEMENT! Power wheelchair users with power seat functions have access to various degrees of changes of position to decrease these risks, but here’s the problem: How many people are utilizing these functions to their full capacity and as recommended by their healthcare provider?
Let’s face it: it can be overwhelming to learn every function that a power wheelchair has, every aspect of medical management, and manage daily ADL routines. Certainly, it’s helpful to be trained by a seating therapist on how often to change positions and the specific angles of changes. But to say that it becomes a habit right away? Not going to happen!
The University of Pittsburgh conducted a study on two groups of end users. Both groups received training on the frequency of position change as well as the angles/positions to go into. One of the groups was then provided with the Virtual Seating Coach app in addition to that training, and their use of power seat functions increased by 40%! It’s all about building habits, and the more automatic a behavior becomes the less overwhelming it is.
So, it is possible to get into healthy movement habits to minimize the awful risk factors of immobility. And utilizing Permobil Connect’s Virtual Seating Coach can help you get there! Here is what you need:
- A smart phone or tablet and Permobil Connect power wheelchair
- Download the free Virtual Seating Coach app
- An appointment with your favorite seating therapist
How does VSC work?
Your seating therapist should have already done an extensive, thorough evaluation to get you into your current seating system. As a result, he or she will know your clinical needs based on your medical and physical condition, your prognosis, and risk factors, and he or she can individualize a plan just for you! Although there are clinical practice guidelines, your therapist may find that you, for example, will benefit from four small changes in tilt/recline in an hour, then one longer more aggressive tilt and recline the next hour. In this case he will go into his clinic’s portal and assign you a specific regimen accessible through your app. It will literally coach and cue you on the following:
- Frequency of each tilt, recline, and power legs adjustment
- How long to stay in a position before coming out of it
- The angles you should be reaching in tilt, recline, and power legs with indicators that let you know you’ve reached them
Your therapist can set daily goals, and you can start noticing the benefit of this healthy habit of movement. The VSC app will automatically capture data as you utilize the power seat functions daily. This data will allow you and your therapist to monitor progress toward your repositioning goals. Ask the following questions to track both benchmarks and improvement:
- Is your pain decreasing?
- Is your pressure injury healing?
- Is your breathing less labored?
- Has your digestion improved?
The Virtual Seating Coach is one way you can be empowered to manage your care and decrease the health risks of immobility. Check in with us next week to learn how Permobil Connect can help you be proactive instead of reactive in the daily use of your power wheelchair.
Stacey Mullis, OTR/ATP
Director of Clinical Marketing
Stacey is Director of Clinical Marketing. She graduated from Western University in London, Ontario, Canada with a BA Linguistics and BSc Occupational Therapy and has practiced as an OTR for over 20 years. With experience in pediatrics, inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation, long term care, and home health, Stacey has faced the challenges first hand of providing appropriate seating in various clinical settings. This led her to pursue an apprenticeship at Care Partners Seating Clinic in Asheville, NC to advance her skills, and she obtained her ATP certification in 2012. Mullis is a member of the NCOTA, CTF, NRRTs, RESNA, and AOTA.