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Seating & Positioning

It is critical that wheelchairs and seating systems promote comfort and function. When the wheelchair and wheelchair seating system meet a person’s needs, he/she can participate in each day without wasting energy on being uncomfortable or attempting to maintain an upright and functional position in his/her wheelchair against gravity. 

For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who also are at risk for or have significant physical disabilities, customized wheelchair seating is often necessary. This may include custom components such as headrests, laptrays, footrests or power controls as well as custom molded seats and backs that fully support and accommodate a person’s body.

DIDD operates three seating and positioning clinics in Arlington, Nashville, and Greeneville. The clinics are staffed with physical and occupational therapists with specialized expertise in evaluating individuals who have complex seating and positioning needs. Each clinic also houses a manufacturing shop with custom design fabricators who have extensive experience in the areas of construction, carpentry, upholstering, and electronics.

The three clinics are overseen by Deborah Poirier, COTA/L who is certified as an Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP) and Seating and Mobility Specialist (SMS) by the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

Custom positioning equipment beyond wheelchair seating may also be needed. Therapeutic positioning beyond the wheelchair is used to prevent reflux and aspiration and promote improvement in mobility, skin integrity, respiratory capacity, eating, digestion, and elimination. In addition, when used consistently, throughout the day and during the night, custom positioning can prevent as well as reverse the progression of asymmetrical posture (e.g. scoliosis, kyphosis, windswept posture, etc.) which can reduce secondary health complications and lead to improved wheelchair seating and function.