The Best Chairs for People with Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease presents its own set of unique challenges when it comes to specifying equipment. Having originally been named Huntington’s chorea (meaning ‘dance’ in Greek), individuals with the condition commonly suffer from involuntary movements. This can make it very difficult to prescribe specialist seating for someone who is living with Huntington’s. In this article, we’ll look at a few things that may be worth taking into consideration when you specify a chair for someone with Huntington’s.
What is Huntington’s Disease?
Huntington’s disease is a hereditary condition that attacks specific nerve cells in the brain. This gets worse over time and can eventually affect the person’s movements, mobility, cognitive function, and even their behaviour.
Your doctor may end up sending you to a neurologist if they suspect you have Huntington’s disease. They can do a genetic test on you to determine whether or not you have Huntington’s, and they may test other things like the movement of your eyes, your balance, and your speech.
Recent research into this condition has shown that it may be curable.
One of the biggest signposts for Huntington’s is involuntary movements. As the nerve cells in the brain become more and more damaged, the individual loses control over their movements, particularly in their limbs. As you can imagine, continuously bumping against metal components of a care chairs can be painful and cause long-lasting damage.
Some care chairs give you the option of completely covering the components to minimise the chances of the user hurting themselves. The Omega care chair is an excellent option if this is what you’re looking for. Specifically designed for users with Huntington’s, the Omega is completely covered to prevent any injuries that may be caused by repetitive uncontrolled movements.
When it comes to Huntington’s disease, making sure that the chair is comfortable in the long term is vital. What with the excessive and constant movements caused by this condition, it’s very easy for the individual to lose weight rapidly.
As you can imagine, that makes it more uncomfortable for people when they have bony bits (like their elbows, posteriors, pelvis, etc) that are constantly moving and knocking against the chair repeatedly. This can affect the person’s skin integrity and it can even lead to pressure injuries if nothing is done about it.
Finding a chair that can accommodate pressure relief cushions being used on it (or indeed one that already has it built-in) is highly advised.
This is one of the key things to remember regarding seating and Huntington’s disease is that the person’s pelvis should be situated lower than the knees. The seat may be angled backwards to facilitate this. Alternatively, tilt-in-space can also be used to angle the knees above the pelvis and keep the person in position.
By having the person’s pelvis as a lower position, it means that they are less likely to slide forwards and out of the chair (which is a common problem when you suffer from involuntary movements and spasms). Again, the Omega chair offers this.
Alternatively, if the individual is still able to stand then the Porta chair may be a better fit. This can offer a little lift to help come to a standing position, but also has a raked seat to maintain a good pelvic position.
If the individual needs extra support in regard to sliding out of the chair, then a pelvic harness can be used. This straps over the legs and holds the pelvis in position to prevent the person from sliding forward.
We can use specialist seating to make sure that the user is taken care of and their needs are catered to, so by looking out for these 3 things, you could really be helping someone with Huntington’s to keep comfy and supported whenever they’re sat down. Huntington’s Disease can be difficult to live with, so by providing the right chair, you could be really helping someone maintain a good quality of life. But if you have any questions or need any further advice on this, please get in touch with us. Our trained seating assessors can carry out free no-obligation seating assessments for people with Huntington’s, so don’t hesitate to give us a call. Alternatively, you can download a free copy of our seating eBook that gives you a step-by-step guide to seating assessments for different conditions.