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Thread: Please help improve my seating!

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Seattle, WA

    Please help improve my seating!

    Hi Everyone! I'm working hard to come up with better seating solutions for myself, currently I'm uncomfortable and not getting a very good push. My seating professionals (pt at the seating clinic and the DME reps) are failing me, so I'm hoping you can provide some good advice.

    I currently have a very old (8+ years) supracor stimulite classic and the adjustable tension upholstery that came with my 4+ year old ZRA. My injury level is L1 incomplete, I'm not ambulatory, but I do have some hip and leg function. This post looks like it will be really long, so I'll separate it into sections. I hope you can bear with me!

    I believe that I would like another Supracor Classic. The seating team talked me into trying out a Roho Hybrid (because they didn't have a new supracor to pressure test with, and they liked the hybrid). I found it very uncomfortable to sit on, and the smooshy back end meant that it was more difficult for me to get in touch with my deep core muscles and use the trunk that I have. I also don't really care for all the maintenance that Roho require, and I love that you can wash Supracor cushions. I really prefer Supracor cushions in all aspects! I returned the Roho, and was told that they ordered me a new Supracor Classic, but just found out that they won't make enough profit from that and I was encouraged to buy it out of pocket elsewhere (my insurance paid for the Roho, though, so I'm trying to either make sure they get reimbursed, or get the cushion back so I can sell it).

    Back Rest
    A few months ago I got a Matrx MX1 (through the DME who also provided the Roho) and it didn't work out well for me. The curve of my hips didn't line up well with the contour of the backrest, and I was always uncomfortable, despite significant adjustment. I prefer my backrests to be quite low, and this was a bit overwhelming, it's a really big back! The DME has asked which backrest I'd prefer, I'm not sure if the swap will work out or not, but I'm sure hoping so.

    So, of course, I've been doing a lot of research in other backs. Ideally, I want something very lightweight (I load into a Honda Element, and want lightweight to push around). I think that I would prefer a hard back over something like the Stimulite Adjustable Tension back - but not having seen one in person it's hard to tell.

    I really like the look of the ADI 2 point pro attachment - but it looks like that would only be available in their aluminum back. There's a bit of difference in weight between the two (Al versus CF), but if the hardware was more streamlined it might be worth the weight (I don't see listed how much their various hardware weight).

    I guess the other two options are the Jetstream Pro and Jay J3?

    At this point I'm not sure if I really need an adjustable back or not. In the past (I've been injured 15 years this fall) I have either just had sling upholstery or the Jay Xtreme (it's too wide for my current frame or I'd use it). I'm guessing that I probably do need an adjustable backrest because of how the rest of my chair is set up…I'm not sure if getting a non-adjustable, but then supplementing (if needed) with additional padding/positioning might be a viable solution or not.

    Currently (with sling back) I find myself wanting to just slump down and slouch in my chair. I get tired of holding myself up all the time, and I find if I'm at a desk or whatever I really want to lean on it. I try to stay upright, or just switch my position around often. This is why I'm thinking the adjustable backrest might be better (as I explain more below), I don't really want to change the dump in my chair.

    Chair Set Up
    When there is better light, I'll see if I can get some pictures taken of me so you can see how I currently sit.

    I believe that I am currently sitting up too high in my chair. However, I like that I have very minimal dump. I have some hip problems (too much mobility on the right side), and excess dump causes this to flare up significantly. I also appreciate having a mostly flat lap for carrying stuff, that definitely increases my independence. I think that I'd like to lower the seat height without changing the dump (which will require a new set of casters, but looks like it's possible).

    I'm also wondering if I need to change my COG. Right now I'm super super steady. It's fine for sitting, but I think that I could get a better push if I changed it slightly….however, I do appreciate that stability and don't want to get crazy with the tippiness!

    Do you think the seat height or the COG would make more of a difference in pushing around? At the moment I don't jump curbs (unless I have my FreeWheel on, and then I just plow right off and up them), and I don't really plan on doing stairs. My terrain varies - from rocky dirt roads and gravel, to city streets (and when I start school this fall I'll be in the hospital hallways a lot). I think that the seat height might be a little easier to change than the COG, and I certainly only plan on doing one at a time.

    I hope that you've lasted this long, and that you can provide some advice!

  2. #2
    I'd try to find a DME that will get you the Stimulite you want. They're great cushions and you shouldn't have to buy it out-of-pocket or be shoe-horned into something uncomfortable.
    Back Rest:
    I have a J3. It's the only hard back I have experience with, so I can't compare it to the ADI, Jetstream or Matrx. I can tell you that it's highly adjustable, so you should be able to get it to a position that provides good support and comfort. It's aluminum, so it's probably heavier than the carbon fiber ADI.
    Chair Setup:
    With a picture, it would be easier to make a recommendation. Lowering your front and rear seat heights may be the best solution, but you could also try lowering the rear seat height by 1/2 inch and see how you feel. These kinds of adjustments are usually best done in small increments.

  3. #3
    Senior Member CapnGimp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Alpine, TX USA male T4complete
    Blog Entries
    Don't change cushions unless u want because having a 'solid' surface instead of an air-filled one is better for propulsion.
    I find I push more efficiently the higher i sit in the chair instead of 'having tires in my armpits', if you understand what i mean.
    I keep my front end light(tippy COG) and lean forward to push.
    A low backrest and it is 'deep' my tubes are in center of my side from front to back.
    I have my back angle about 90 degrees to the ground.
    Use about 2.5 - 3 inches of dump.

    Was afraid to experiment with my chair until I found this site.
    Do what works for you.
    Experiment !!!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks for the support! I've been pretty mad at myself for letting them talk me into the Roho. I was trying not to be pigheaded, but it looks like I should have listened to my gut! Right now I feel like I'm stuck with this vendor because my insurance has paid for these items - but if I can get my insurance company refunded then I can go elsewhere.

    I'm attaching a side view of me sitting in the chair. I was trying not to stretch my fingers too far down (my left arm doesn't straighten all the way because of a badly broken elbow, that's the best they could do repair-wise).

    I'll look up my chair info from TiLite for more specific details.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jschism's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    illinois, and no, chicago is not anywhere near where i live
    what size casters do you want to use? solid seat pan and back are the only way to go(both will help with slump). switching to a rigid seat pan will raise you're seat height a little, which looks like you could lower both an inch as long as you still have clearance under footplate.
    roho sucks as does Jay products. if the stimulite has been working and you are comfortable with it, wtf would they get you something else?
    You're COG is way far back, try adjusting it forward to where your finger is centered in wheel(that's the general rule). it may feel tippy, but you'll get use to it quickly. you'll get around much better

  6. #6

    Based upon the picture that you posted your posture is excellent, even with an elbow that does not permit your arm to fully straighten and 15 years of using a wheelchair.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ~Lin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Indianapolis, IN
    Quote Originally Posted by WC_Sage View Post

    Based upon the picture that you posted your posture is excellent, even with an elbow that does not permit your arm to fully straighten and 15 years of using a wheelchair.
    Ditto from my inexperienced opinion. Only thing I see is the COG is awfully far back like jschism noted.
    Board Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working in Education. Feel free to ask me any service dog questions!

    I am not paralyzed. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder with neuro complications and a movement disorder.

  8. #8
    It does look like you're pretty far off the ground - you could probably lower the front and rear seat heights by at least half an inch.

  9. #9
    If you feel stable, I concur that your posture looks good, but your rear axle is too far back (especially given the range limitations in your left elbow). I do wonder if you you would be able to sit comfortably at a desk for extended periods of time, however. While I'm not crazy about the removable mounting hardware, the Varilite Icon back can provide some ability to dynamically adjust your back by changing the amount of air in the back cushion. In any event, any solid back shouldn't be taller than 10".

    You are spot on that lowering both STF heights would help. You have TiLite's 5x1 soft roll, so switching to 4" casters is do-able. You need to sit lower without increasing dump.

  10. #10
    Not that I am on a Varilite kick or anything, but the Varilite Zoid cushion is lightweight and would alllow you to sit lower in your chair. It is the only cushion I can use instead of my Low Profile Roho and still have the same pushrim access. It was nearly as comfortable as my Low Profile, yet it is lighter and provides better stability.

    Both the Zoid and Icon back pad use self-inflating air filled foam. Open the valve and the cushion inflates, sit on it and close the valve when you reach the desired level of immersion.

    They market this adjustability as a way to provide optimal pressure distribution, but there is a dyanamic seating aspect to this technology that is underappreciated. The ability to compress the cushion and back up to an inch without bottoming out alllows one to change their positioning in their chair as well as dynamically alter their center of mass. I discovered these capabilities myself while demo'ing an Icon Low Back and a Zoid cushion on my own chair for an entire week.

    They also respond to end user feedback, I just noticed on their web site that they now offer permanent mounting hardware with the Icon back (my chief complaint for rigid frame use).

    They are also based in Seattle. It might be worthwhile to give them a call.

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