Occupational Therapy for Posture and Seating

Occupational therapy (OT) plays a crucial role in addressing posture and seating needs for individuals across various settings, including those with disabilities, injuries, or chronic conditions affecting their ability to sit comfortably and safely. This aspect of OT focuses on enhancing functional independence, comfort, and preventing secondary complications that may arise from poor seating. 

Clinical Specialisms

The field of posture and seating involves a multidisciplinary approach, with several clinical specialisms working together to address the complex needs of individuals requiring support in these areas. These specialisms collaborate to assess, recommend, and implement seating solutions that promote optimal posture, enhance comfort, and prevent secondary complications.

How can Occupational Therapy help?

Occupational Therapy (OT) plays a pivotal role in addressing posture and seating needs, especially for individuals with disabilities, injuries, or chronic conditions that affect their ability to sit comfortably and safely. OTs focus on improving an individual's functional independence and quality of life through personalized interventions. 

Comprehensive Assessment

Functional Evaluation: OTs assess the individual's ability to perform daily activities and their current sitting posture, identifying any limitations or areas for improvement.

Posture and Seating Needs: They evaluate the specific posture and seating needs of the individual, considering factors like spinal alignment, pressure distribution, and risk of skin breakdown.

Environmental Context: The assessment also includes evaluating the environments in which the individual will use the seating system, such as home, work, or school, to ensure the recommendations are practical and supportive of the individual's lifestyle.

Customized Seating Solutions

Recommendations: Based on the assessment, OTs recommend specialized seating solutions tailored to the individual's needs. This may include ergonomic chairs, wheelchair cushions, back supports, and other adaptive equipment to promote optimal posture and comfort.

Adaptations and Modifications: OTs can also suggest modifications to existing seating arrangements to improve posture, such as adding lumbar supports, seat wedges, or footrests.

Skill Development and Training

Postural Control: OTs work with individuals to develop and strengthen the skills needed for maintaining proper posture. This may include exercises to enhance core stability, balance, and flexibility.

Proper Use of Equipment: They provide training on how to correctly use and adjust the recommended seating solutions and adaptive equipment, ensuring the individual can achieve and maintain an optimal sitting posture.

Transfer Skills: For individuals using wheelchairs or other mobility devices, OTs teach safe and effective transfer techniques to and from different seating arrangements.

Prevention and Management of Secondary Complications

Pressure Ulcer Prevention: By promoting proper seating and posture, OTs help prevent pressure ulcers and other skin integrity issues that can arise from prolonged sitting in incorrect positions.

Ergonomic Education: OTs educate individuals on ergonomic principles to apply in various settings, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and enhancing overall comfort during seated activities.

Collaborative Care

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: OTs often work as part of a multidisciplinary team, collaborating with physical therapists, rehabilitation engineers, and other healthcare professionals to provide a cohesive approach to posture and seating.

Family and Caregiver Involvement: They also involve family members and caregivers in the process, providing education and training to support the individual’s posture and seating needs.

Follow-Up and Adjustment

Monitoring and Reassessment: OTs conduct follow-up assessments to monitor the effectiveness of the seating and posture interventions, making necessary adjustments to accommodate changes in the individual's condition or needs.

Adaptive Strategies: As part of ongoing care, OTs continually adapt strategies and interventions to ensure that the individual maintains optimal posture and seating comfort over time.

What does an Occupational Therapist do ?

When assessing posture and seating, an Occupational Therapist (OT) undertakes a detailed and systematic process to ensure that any recommendations or interventions provided are tailored to the individual's specific needs. 

Initial Consultation:

Physical Assessment:

Functional Assessment:

Environmental Assessment:

Recommendations and Trial of Equipment:

Education and Training:

Implementation and Follow-Up:

Diagnoses & Conditions treated with Occupational Therapy for Posture and Seating

Neurological Conditions such as Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis

Musculoskeletal Conditions such as Scoliosis

Developmental Disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Age related conditions such as Parkinson's Disease

Paediatric conditions such as Global Developmental Delay (GDD)