Adaptive Seating

The goals of adaptive seating include:
  • Improved function including independent mobility, enhanced feeding ability, upper extremity function, and ability to do activities of daily living;
  • Prevent progression of deformity;
  • Improved comfort and alleviate pain;
  • Facilitate transportation; and
  • Enhance quality of life.
In the optimal setting, evaluation for adaptive seating is done by a multidisciplinary team experienced in wheelchair or other evaluations. Roles of the primary clinician might include:
  • Referrals to a therapist or seating team for evaluations to determine the optimal type of adaptive seating for any of the following needs:
    • Wheelchairs;
    • Adapted seats for infants to allow independent sitting (6-9 months of age);
    • Adapted stroller (if a standard stroller doesn't provide adequate support);
    • Special car seats (if standard car seats/ seat belt do not provide adequate support);
    • Bathing systems; and
    • Other mobility device (scooters, walkers).
  • Monitoring problems with the adaptive equipment (e.g., broken parts, outgrown, poor positioning or support, unable to transport or use in certain environments etc.) and referring back to the team for repairs, growth adjustments, and upgrades.
  • In some cases, advocacy by the clinician to help secure funding for adaptive seating.
Some children may require more than one wheelchair (e.g., a power chair and a manual chair). However, getting third party payers or Medicaid to fund a second wheelchair can be difficult. It is very important to get the manual wheelchair first. Once the patient has a power chair, funding for a manual wheelchair will not be available.


Information & Support

Families whose children utilize a wheelchair may need information on vehicular transportation. EP Magazine (Exceptional Parent) offers two helpful articles online (free egistration required to navigate the site). Articles include "New Developments in Safer Transportation for Wheelchair Users" and "Tips to Remember when Choosing Adaptive Vans and Adaptive Wheelchair Carriers."

For Professionals

Wheelchair Guide (Apparelyzed)
Questions to ask when considering prescribing or ordering a wheelchair.

For Parents and Patients

Types of Manual Wheelchairs (Apparelyzed)
A guide to different types of manual wheelchairs.

Guide to Electric Wheelchairs (Apparelyzed)
A discussion of electric wheelchairs including types, batteries, and more.

Wheelchair Guide (Apparelyzed)
Questions to ask when considering prescribing or ordering a wheelchair.


Author: Lynne M Kerr, MD, PhD - 9/2013
Content Last Updated: 9/2013