There are many things to think about when deciding what type of seating solutions will work for your child. Since cerebral palsy (CP) presents in different ways, it’s important to determine which equipment/products and accessories will offer the best support.
Your medical team can help you better understand your child’s positioning needs. Therapists, for example can arrange for you to meet together with equipment retailers to try different items available for purchase. Having the knowledgeable input of both a therapist and retailer can help you identify the best possible seating solutions.
Make a list of what you want the equipment to do for your child, and yourself. You may find it helpful to consider the following questions:
- What do you feel is most important for your child do be able to do during these activities?
- How do your child’s therapists feel these goals could be achieved with equipment?
- What do the therapists feel is important for your child to be able to, do or practice, during these activities?
- Where will your child participate in these activities?
- How will this affect your needs (i.e. do you need something portable or lightweight)?
- If you can get input from the person with CP, ask them what he/she wants, or needs. You may be surprised by the answers.
Once you have identified a potential piece of equipment, consider how often and for how long it will be used. For example, a floor sitter with a tray may seem like a good idea, but maybe your child doesn’t like to sit still and will spend their time fighting to get out of it.
Some items can seem like a great idea, but when used, you may find the need to look for more practical, and less expensive alternatives, or solutions. If the item you are considering is $50.00 you may be willing to take your chances without much thought, but if it is $500.00 you will probably have some regrets if it doesn’t get used the way you had hoped.
The person with cerebral palsy should be appropriately supported in sitting so that they have free use of their hands and arms. Some equipment may be either too restrictive or not supportive enough, or can greatly limit the persons interaction with their environment.
Do not buy anything unless you are able to try it (or return it once you do try it)!
Adaptive Seating for Cerebral Palsy: Mainstream Options
The following is a list of regular baby/toddler products and adaptive special needs products:
Special Tomato Soft-Touch Booster Seat– Portable, lightweight, easy to clean, good combination of material that gives and is molded for support, can be used in multiple settings and can be adjusted for use on different chairs.
Special Tomato Soft-Touch Back and Seat Liners– Portable, multi-use (in strollers, wheelchairs, on desk and table chairs), lightweight, easy to clean, easy to transport.
Special Tomato Soft-Touch Sitter– This is seat offers a five-point harness for support around the chest, pelvic area and waist. It has a built in abductor and head and lateral supports. Although it is tall, it is lightweight and can be used in different chairs at home and perhaps at school. It can be hard to transport, but it has lots of versatility. There is an option for a stable or mobile floor kit, it can be turned into a tilt-in-space chair, and it is offered in child through adult sizes.
Seat2Go– “The Seat2Go is designed to be a lightweight, portable seat to provide postural support for children. Straps on the back and seat allow for the Seat2Go to be safely secure to any chair or in a stroller.”
Kaye Bolster Chair– The company’s website states, “that it was designed for kids who needs a wide based of support in order to achieve good pelvic position, lower extremity position, and trunk alignment for stable sitting.” It comes in two sizes and has an option for moveable casters.
Fisher Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster– It is inexpensive, lightweight, and has a carry strap. It is easy to clean, offers three height adjustments, attaches to different chairs, and has a three–point harness, built-in abductor, and removable tray.
S.W.A.S.H Brace– Supportive wearable equipment (orthosis), may be difficult to put on and take off. It was developed by the parent of a child with dystonic CP who had challenges with leg scissoring. It holds the hips in a manner that may offer the child greater stability in sitting. Also, the child can move and sit independently and freely while wearing it.
Here is a list of goals that were used in designing the SWASH brace (from their website):
- Increase abduction and stretch hip adductors to improve hip alignment
- Prevent excessive adduction during sitting, standing and walking
- Optimize sitting and standing posture
- Achieve the above goals with an automatic transition from neutral (walking, standing) to abduction (sitting)
Rock’er Pediatric Positioning Chill Out Chair– “The uniquely designed Rock’er Chill Out Chair provides dignified and safe seating without restraint, as well as a soothing rocking motion that appeals to children with autism and other developmental disorders.”
The Wombat HighLow Positioning Chair– The Wombat Highlow Positioning Chair by Snug Seat, has a hydraulic lift/lower mechanism, and heavy.
Adaptive Seating for Floor Sitters
Rifton Corner Floor Sitter– “The Activity Chair has revolutionized adaptive seating and continues to delight therapists with its versatility for people of all shapes and sizes, all conditions and special needs.”
Special Tomato Soft-Touch Sitter w/Floor Sitter Kit– This item is discussed above (without the kit) and has a kit which allows it to be used on the floor.
Cube Chair and Edutray– This is not technically a floor sitter but it sits low enough to the ground. It can be used on two sides which offer different heights above the ground.
For more information, download our free cerebral palsy tool kit.