Finding Pieces of the Puzzle

For many years now I have spent my work days with people who have motor impairments, and need wheeled mobility and seating systems. Most of them are children and adolescents, but some are adults who have developmental disabilities. Since kids grow up, living and working in the same community for 32 years has given me the opportunity to see many of them mature into adulthood. I have grown and learned along with them, and have watched children born with beautiful, symmetrical bodies become adolescents and adults with distorted body shapes.

These kinds of secondary complications – scoliosis, hip dislocations and so on – only get worse as time goes on. Last year a young man I knew from 3 months of age to adulthood died at age 30 – his breathing and digestion compromised by his complex body shape. During his growing up years I thought we were doing all we could by providing the best wheelchair seating systems available. I learned too late (for him) about a crucial missing piece that could have improved the quality of his life immensely and perhaps even changed its course – 24 hour postural care.

What if there were a gentle, non-invasive, inexpensive way to:

  • Preserve and improve quality of life and muscle tone
  • Reduce pain
  • Ease physical care
  • Prevent/limit distorted body shapes in people with motor disabilities?

What if this gentle, non-invasive approach for people with motor impairments could:

  • Improve sitting posture and tolerance?
  • Increase successful use of seating systems?
  • Help complex seating systems last longer?
  • Help people sleep better?

There is such an approach – 24 hour postural care – which when well implemented can often provide these benefits and more. It may be a fairly new idea on the North American side of the Atlantic, but in other places it has been around for years now. Perhaps the time has come to raise awareness in the United States?

Tamara Kittelson-Aldred, MS, OTR/L, ATP/SMS