Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2022 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Custom seating can mean different things to different people… it can be confusing, intimidating or even exciting, depending on who you ask.
As a clinician, when I first heard others recommend “custom” as an option for a cushion or backrest, all I could think was that sounds really complicated. I didn’t understand why the person needed a custom solution… or what that even meant. Wouldn’t something available off the shelf just meet their needs?
If you are a wheelchair user, a clinician, or a CRT (Complex Rehab Techology) provider, you may have or had a relationship with custom seating in the past. You may have used it, recommended it, or even created it! When we think about a relationship, it is defined as “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”1 So how do you connect or match the individual and their seating needs without complicating things, when they do need custom?
Medicare defines custom seating as a product that is individually made for a specific person, made by starting with basic materials (such as liquid foam or a block of foam), and created by using a technique to capture the individual shape of that person.2
That still sounds a bit complicated, right? It also sounds pretty cool! Having something made specific to you is an option, especially if you’ve tried a bunch of other cushions and couldn’t find the right ‘fit’. Custom could be the answer you’re looking for!
There are different techniques to make custom seating products. For over 10 years, the Inception cushion has been connecting the relationship between the user, the clinician, and the provider by using the Inception Simulation Kit to design the perfect cushion together.
Using the Inception Simulation Kit, you can build from the base layer up with your choices of high quality foam, positioning pieces, gel inserts, and ROHO® inserts to design the cushion for you, the individual. Once you build the simulated cushion, if you’re not satisfied with the results, you can change it in real time. Keep changing it until you have achieved your dream cushion!
Relationships don’t have to be complicated. Custom seating doesn’t have to be either. Designing with positioning and pressure offloading materials specific to what you need should be a team effort. When you’re working together, goals and confidence are achieved.
- Oxford languages Oxford Languages | The Home of Language Data (oup.com)
- Custom Fabricated Wheelchair Seat and Back Cushions - Correct Coding - Revised - JD DME - Noridian (noridianmedicare.com)
Portfolio Marketing Manager - Seating & Positioning
Nicole B. LaBerge, PT, ATP is a Physical Therapist with 17 years of experience in a variety of clinical settings. She currently works for Permobil as a Portfolio Marketing Manager of Seating and Positioning products. Her past clinical practice has included seating and mobility for adult and pediatric populations, with a focus in neurological rehabilitation, power standing and wound care. Nicole has presented at the State and International Levels, has multiple publications in peer reviewed journals and enjoys sharing her passion for patient advocacy, efficiency, and clinical outcomes. She currently serves as an Executive Board Member for the Clinician Task Force.