Seating advice

Good sitting posture is important for:

Comfort

Ensuring comfort is essential as it can ultimately improve quality of life. Proper positioning can promote comfort and decrease fatigue, which can increase the tolerance of a desired seating position essential for consistency and engagement. A good sitting posture can also be effective in both inhibiting and accommodating muscle tone, which can have a significant impact on reducing pain levels.

Function

A good sitting posture, especially one that promotes postural alignment and stability, is a critical requirement for movement and function. Use of the upper limbs is vital to the successful performance of tasks and participation in activities of daily living. Freedom of movement in the upper limbs is achieved through effective stabilisation of the pelvis and trunk, which can be achieved with correct set up of seating. Proper positioning can also reduce the influence of abnormal tone and reflexes, encouraging normal movement.

Physiological function

A major goal in postural management is to enhance autonomic nervous system function. A person’s inability to sit upright may result in increased dependence and decline in overall health over time, primarily reflecting altered physiological function. Poor positioning and head control can impair:

  • Respiration
  • Cardiac efficiency
  • Swallow function
  • Digestion

Appropriate seating can provide an optimum position for respiratory and circulatory function. An upright sitting position can also facilitate a normal swallowing pattern and improve components of eating and drinking by maintaining good head alignment.

Cognition and engagement

The introduction of postural management interventions at an appropriate time can facilitate psychosocial and cognitive development. Individuals with cognitive problems benefit from postural interventions as they enhance communication and participation. An upright sitting position can offer a better line of vision for interaction, and provide an increased ability to achieve cognitive tasks. Head control is essential for orientation and socialisation, and a stable posture can help an individual engage more fully in social activities at home, school or work, and as part of the community.

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