What to do about posterior pelvic tilt…?

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Wishing everyone a Happy Occupational Therapy Month this October! This week Access Community Therapists is hosting a workshop on Friday and Saturday on Wheelchair seating and positioning in the community. Pictures to come! Lindsay Alford, OT and I will be presenting this year. So excited to be a part of this workshop once again. Today, I thought I would share with you some strategies for managing a flexible posterior pelvic tilt. Over the past few months I have actually had 4 clients with similar issues. They are as follows:

  1. A flexible posterior pelvic tilt.
  2. Limited/restricted hip flexion (meaning they were not able to achieve at least 90 degrees of hip flexion before causing the pelvis to move into posterior tilt).
  3. AND a fixed or only mildly improveable thoracic kyphosis.

Although these 3 issues don’t seem overly challenging on their own, together, they make seating and positioning incredibly difficult. For example, if you just accommodate for the kyphosis and limited hip flexion by opening the seat to back angle of the seat or allowing for thoracic relief through a modifyable backrest,  the client may fall into more posterior tilt and start sliding out of their wheelchair. Oh no!

Since I’ve had so many clients with the same 3 issues, I thought I would write about a few of the strategies I’ve used so that you can try them with your clients. Keep in mind, you must do a thorough mat assessment before implementing these strategies so that you know exactly what issue you are trying to address!

1. To address posterior pelvic tilt: Use a pre-ischial shelf or IT block to stop the ITs from moving forwards on the seat:

Above are two examples of pre-ishial shelfs on cushions. the image on the left is a custom built seat made with carved foam. The second is a commercial cushion (which is more on the mild contour end-but there are more aggressively contoured cushions available). Keep in mind that the more angular and high the build up is, the more control you will have.

2.  To address the kyphosis with limited hip flexion: Open the seat to back angle or have or cut down the front of the cushion to allow for a more open hip angle. I don’t have an image for this, this is a very specific and calculated strategy. Based on the client’s hip range, you open the seat to back angle to accommodate for a comfortable/functional hip range. You must do a mat assessment and sitting assessment to find out what this angle is! If a client has less hip range on one side compared to the other, make an assymmetrical front end where you allow one leg to rest lower than the other. This is extremely effective as it prevents you from positioning the client with too much open hip angle, which could result in the loss of control for the pelvis and hence….dum dum daaaa…..sliding!! *gasp!*

3. To control the pelvis and accommodate for a kyphosis: Use a backrest to (1) block the pelvis at the back and (2) provide enough thoracic relief for the kyphosis. 

The backrest above is the comfort company Acta-Relief backrest. I just prescribed this backrest for a client who needed a lumbar-sacral push and upper thoracic relief for his kyphosis. The adjustable straps are well placed and provide a good degree of support where you need it and can be loosened off to allow for more accommodation for the kyphotic part of a client’s back. You can also get laterals for this back to provide some good midline control or guidance. Other products like the Future Mobility Prism Truefitt backrest and the Dynamic Health Care’s Armadillo backrest could also be other options for milder cases. Armadillo backrest has been reported by my colleagues to be a bit narrow, but I haven’t tried this myself. Bi-angular backrests (which have a hinge in the back) can also work here.

The photos above here are of a custom backrest fabricated by Jeff Ducklow at Ability Health Care. This is a hybrid technique using carved foam backrest and foam in place. This client had very stiff pelvic mobility. In lying, her pelvis rested in anterior tilt, but as soon as her hips were flexed, she would fall into posterior tilt. In addition to this, she also presented with a lot of extensor tone. The flexibility in her spine (anterior/posteriorly) was also at a very specific point in her back. Therefore, we built up that part of her backrest to provide a push at her upper lumbar spine to try to prevent her pelvis from falling further into posterior tilt as well as to prevent her from collapsing forwards at her trunk. Once we achieved a good position with the carved foam, we then used foam in place (poured foam) to fill in the rest of the space to ensure good accommodation of her upper back kyphosis. Neat eh?

4. To prevent the pelvis from falling into posterior tilt: Use a supportive anterior pelvic support or belt:

The above two belts are custom belts however, even a four point lap belt can work here as well (although a 4-point belt won’t really help to control for rotation of the pelvis is that is an issue FYI). The placement of the belt is so important here. In these cases, the belt should be positioned under the ASIS to hold the pelvis back and down onto the seat. If it is positioned properly it will keep the pelvis back into the system and down onto the ischial well. When a good anterior support is used with a backrest and a pre-ischial shelf, they all work to prevent the pelvis from falling into posterior pelvic tilt. Ta da!

Keep in mind that if you are dealing with all three of these seating issues in one system, you will probably need to implement most, if not all of these strategies. I hope you liked these tips! Until next time:

Seating is Super!

Cheryl

Custom Power Wheelchair Transfer System

Happy New Year Everyone! Welcome to the first post of the year 2015! As some of you may know, we are expecting our first little one in January 2015! My husband and I just moved and life has been busy in December….hence my MIA status. I still have lots to share with you over the next year but the posts may be a bit less frequent…but hang in there! Seating will continue to be super!

As a welcome back, I thought I would share some photos from Access Community Therapists’ Wheelchair Seating & Positioning Workshop that took place on November 27th and 28th at Motion Specialties. It was another great turnout and we just wanted to say THANK YOU to our client educators for helping us out again.

So, here is a system that was finished right before Christmas last year (2014). It was a custom transfer system that was fabricated on a Permobil M300 base. This base was provided by Fran Wilson, Sales Representative from Self Care Home Health Products. Chad Kania, Seating Technician, from Ability Health Care created the transfer system and built the custom seating system. This system was made for a client with Achondroplasia (Dwarfism). The goals of the system were to:

1) To improve her comfort and positioning
2) To improve her ability to transfer independently
3) To improve her ability to function independently in and around her home

Prior to this, this client had an 18″ wide x 18″ deep, standard power wheelchair with basic seating. She required the use of a step stool to get into it and sat in the system with her legs completely extended and made no contact with the backrest. This was causing her back pain as she essentially sat completely unsupported. Also, in order to get into the system itself, she needed someone to help her get the step stool every time she needed to transfer.

The biggest obstacle was of course….FUNDING! With some good old fashioned OT letter writing, this system was eventually cost shared by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation and Community Living BC. MSDSI funded the wheelchair base and seating (The Permobil M300 with tilt and the seating system), while CLBC funded the power transfer system. YAY!

The seating system consisted of a foam-in-place backrest with fixed, flat, trunk laterals. The seat was made from carved foam. It was made with a custom drop at the front to allow for a bend at the clients’ knees. Pelvic laterals were also used to guide the clients’ pelvis into the system when she transferred.

Once the foam-in-place backrest and seat were fabricated, trialed, trimmed down and upholstered, here is what it looked like:

Once the seating was completed, custom armrests were made. The standard armrests were used as transfer aids. Custom mounting of the joystick was also needed to get it into a optimal position for driving. In addition, the foot platform was created with a roller blade wheel was installed at the bottom to prevent the system from scratching the wood floors in the home.

Since this system was delivered to the client, she has been using it for a variety of activities around her home such as:

i) Getting her coat out of the closet independently
ii) transferring in and out of bed independently
iii) using the sink in the bathroom
iv) getting to the table for meals and snacks independently
v) opening and closing doors independently

Hearing about all of these functional activities was like an OT dream! Here is a video of the system. This should help with visualizing how this system actually works!

Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for checking in!

Seating is Super!

Cheryl

Standing Power Wheelchair with Added Seating Modifications

Happy Easter Everyone! I hope you were able to enjoy the long weekend. This weekend I was able to catch up on some much needed rest and errands. For once, I actually feel ready for the week to begin. So, to give you a start to the week, check out this power wheelchair I set up with the help of Motion Specialties! It’s a Ranger Express (rear wheel drive) power wheelchair with standing function. There are a few other manufacturers that offer the standing function, such as Permobil and Levo. The Ranger Express was chosen for this client because it was a rear wheel drive power base, the clients’ driving preference (most are usually front wheel drive) and because of the style and positioning of the knee blocks (which best suited this client during the trials). The stander function on power bases is a great addition, but involves a few considerations. Some of these considerations include access to funding (these things are expensive!), the ability of the client to move into a standing position from sitting (not as straight forward as it may seem….lots of positioning considerations here!) and safety (bone density issues, cognition and safety awareness). In addition, with regards to the base itself, many of them have a lower max speed and are set up with a front wheel drive, which some clients may not be used to.

In order to make this base work for my client, several modifications were required. This client had a backrest that she used in her power wheelchair and in her manual wheelchair. This meant that the backrest needed to be removeable from the new power base. Her backrest was made using a foam-in-place insert to accommodate her back contours. This insert was set up in a Jay 2 backrest shell. Typically, backrests are mounted and bolted on to the back plate of the Ranger wheelchair, preventing it from being removed.  Nathan, the technician from Motion Specialties, therefore designed a track-like system that allowed the backrest to be removed by sliding the back onto the plate instead. In addition, to maintain the appropriate amount of seat depth, Nathan essentially needed to move the whole back plate further back on the base…not a quick job by any means! You can see this below where Nathan is wearing green and Bill Randall, sales representative is wearing purple. I promised to post a flattering picture so hope you both are happy with this one! =)

Further customization was needed to increase the “shearing” of the backrest when the wheelchair went into standing. When we trialed the initial set-up with the client, the backrest moved up too high causing the laterals to move up too far up and into the client’s axillas. Nathan then made a custom bracket that allowed the backrest to move downwards more when using the standing function. See below:

The last few customizations included grip tape for the footplate and ankle huggers to prevent the client’s feet from losing positioning and moving into standing, a custom Body Point chest strap with custom auto style buckle sewn in by Nathan, and added velcro under the armrests to secure the chest strap when not in use. This was necessary to ensure the client’s ability to use the stander independently.

The modifications that were made by Nathan and Bill really made this system work for my client. Thanks so much for all your hard work! It really did make a difference for this client! The standing function itself was selected for the health benefits as well as to improve my clients’ independence and level of function. Here is a link to a resource by RESNA outlining some of the benefits of wheelchair standing devices. Hopefully this will help with your justification letters! Also, an exciting announcement! Access Community Therapists Ltd, is offering a wound/pressure management course called “The Pressure is On ” in June. It’s a two day practical course on wound assessment, pressure mapping and intervention. We will be hosting it on June 6th and 7th at Advanced Mobility Products in Burnaby, BC. Click on the link or visit the Access website to register. Jo-Anne Chisholm, OT, Joanne Yip, OT and Heather McMurtry, RN, WOCN will be the main instructors and I will also be there assisting with the break out sessions. Register soon as space does fill up quickly!

Thanks for checking in today! I hope you enjoyed the case and hope to see you at the pressure course!

Seating is Super!

Cheryl