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Specialist Chairs for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Specifying a riser recliners or care chairs for people with Parkinson’s can be tough work. It’s a condition that can be presented in so many ways with varying levels of mobility and independence, so finding the right chair can take a little bit more time than usual.

To help you specify the right chair, our seating assessors have come up with a few things to think about when it comes to clients with Parkinson’s. To see more hints and tips concerning specifying specialist seating for Parkinson’s, download this free seating eBook.

If you require specialist seating urgently for someone with Parkinson’s Disease, please get in touch. We are still able to take orders and arrange delivery.

You can book a video assessment or contact our specialist team directly for assistance.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Let’s begin with a brief definition of Parkinson’s, and how it can affect a person. Parkinson’s Disease causes progressive damage to specific areas of the brain, which in turn can cause uncontrollable shaking and tremors in certain areas of the body, slow movements, and stiff muscles which decreases mobility.

By attacking nerve cells in the brain, Parkinson’s prevents the production of a hormone called dopamine, which helps to regulate muscle movement.

Parkinson’s can also cause other symptoms like depression, lack of balance, memory problems, insomnia, and even a loss of sense of smell.

Variable Angle Lift (VAL)

When you’re looking for rise and recline chairs for people with Parkinson’s Disease, Variable Angle Lift (VAL) is a useful thing to look out for. It is a setting that can be altered on some riser recliner chairs, and give your client a few different ways to be lifted to standing from a seated position. Particularly for ambulant people, VAL gives them a little more support and peace of mind when getting to their feet.

There are usually 3 different lifting options on a chair with VAL:

  • One is the regular rise and lift that is used most of the time on rise and recline chairs.
  • The middle setting offers a similar rising movement but with less tilt in the seat itself, giving a little extra support to find your feet when coming to stand.
  • And the third option is a vertical rise movement which doesn’t tilt the seat at all.

The typical action of a riser recliner will simply tip the individual out of the chair, and if their balance or leg strength is already inhibited, this could cause them to simply fall over. With Parkinson’s, you may find that the middle option or the vertical rise is best-suited to your client. The extra support of the seat will help to find their footing and stand when ready, ultimately preventing falls.

The Le Chair in standing position with the seat raised and tilted forwards

Raked Seating

This is usually used more with care chair than it is with rise and recline models, but a raked seat can also help when it comes to people with Parkinson’s. A raked seat is positioned so the back of the seat itself is slightly lower than the front. Funnily enough, if you’ve ever been to the theatre then you’ve probably sat in a raked seat!

People with Parkinson’s often struggle with sliding out of their chairs. Tremors and limited core strength makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy upright position when seated, meaning that those living with Parkinson’s often begin to slump and slide forwards.

Having a raked seat means that the person less likely to slide forwards because their hips and pelvis are cradled in a more stable position against the backrest.

Tilt-In-Space

Tilt-in-space is also a useful thing to consider when specifying a care chair or a riser recliner. Tilt-in-space is a particularly beneficial feature on most chairs, but it has its uses specifically in chairs for people with Parkinson’s.

Like the raked seat, tilt-in-space will help you to maintain a healthy posture. By tilting backwards but maintaining your hip angle, tilt-in-space allows the individual to remain in the same position but with reduced pressure on their sacrum and posterior. This will help the client to keep their position despite shaking.

One particular chair that offers incredible tilt-in-space features for those with Parkinson’s is the Copgrove. This riser recliner actually pivots your client from the front of the seat, giving them the ability to attain a tilted position without their feet leaving the floor.

Positioning Supports

Non-ambulatory and ambulatory people with Parkinson’s may require some extra positioning supports in their chairs. People with Parkinson’s often develop poor posture due to muscle rigidity and stiffness, so getting their chair to be as supportive as possible is key.

People with Parkinson’s Disease are more likely to develop postural problems like a forward-leaning head, rounded shoulders, and a noticeable lean forward. Thoracic kyphosis is more likely to occur in those with Parkinson’s, so positioning supports can help to combat this.

You might want to include a built-in support wherever it is most helpful on the client, and you can remove some of the wadding in the backrest around the thoracic area to reduce the chances of pressure injuries occurring.

Lateral supports are also good to include, particularly if your client is leaning or slumping to one side. We would suggest using softer supports, as harder cushions can actually have an adverse effect on the individual’s posture.

Something like the Lento care chair is good for this, as it offers an array of positioning support configurations and has built-in lateral supports.

The Lento care chair in a reclined position showing how chairs for people with Parkinson's need various positioning options

The Lento care chair has very flexible positioning options and also has built-in tilt-in-space to help people with Parkinson’s to stay more securely seated.

Pressure Relief & Waterproof Fabrics

Particularly with non-ambulatory clients, pressure relief and waterproofing are key things to consider when specifying a care chair. People with severe Parkinson’s can be sat down for hours and hours every day.

This makes them much more susceptible to pressure injuries. Wherever possible, we always recommend built-in pressure relief cushions.

Waterproof fabrics are also something to be thought about when specifying for non-ambulatory clients. Parkinson’s Disease can often cause incontinence, and so ensuring that the chair (or at least the seat cushion) is covered in a waterproof fabric can be particularly useful.

As mentioned before, Parkinson’s can be presented in an array of ways. It varies massively from person to person, and of course you’ll also find that your clients will vary between needing a riser recliner and care chairs.

Parkinson’s is a disease that varies massively from client-to-client. It’s also progressive, and so will gradually get worse over time. With that in mind, it’s best to choose chairs for people with Parkinson’s that offer flexibility and can be altered for changing needs over time.

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Comments

  1. Betty Beveridge says:

    Where can I find these chairs?
    Betty Beveridge e-mail…[email protected]

    1. Lucie Hudson says:

      Hello Betty,

      You can find all these chairs on our website in either the rise and recline chairs or care chairs categories.

      Thanks,
      Lucie Hudson

  2. TracyJones says:

    Can you please give an idea of cost for bespoke rise and recline? Do you serve Bristol area?

    1. Tristan Hulbert says:

      Hello Tracy

      Many thanks for your enquiry! I believe we’ve already been in touch with yourself directly, however for anyone else who’s looking for information about costs for bespoke rise and recline chairs, then this blog is a good place to start! https://www.yorkshirecareequipment.com/advice-tips/how-much-do-rise-and-recline-chairs-cost/

      If you do need any more information then please do get in touch with us on 01423 799960.

      Kind regards
      Tristan

  3. hvh says:

    These chairs are great; however none of them will stop a PD patient from leaning on to their weak side and having to be propped up 10 times a day. Need a chair with either adjustable seat that can lift the weak side so the body compensates and higher/deeper armrests so caregivers can wedge a pillow on the side that will stay!

    1. Tristan Hulbert says:

      Hello, thanks for your comment!

      Leaning to a particular side is a common issue for many people. Thankfully we have so many ways of correcting that these days. For example the Lento chair (care chair) can come with a cocoon backrest which offers lateral support either side for the user. This particular backrest is ideal for maintaining the midline position. If the person’s lean is particularly a heavy lean then the further addition of hidden wedges can be placed behind the backrest on the side of the lean. The use of tilt in space in the chair offers further assistance by maintaining the user in a good position and posture. The Lento chair has many adjustments, one of which is arm height adjustment. The extra height gives the added support for the user, acting as further lateral support.

      If the person is still standing, riser recliners can have different backrests etc and offer the lateral support you require also.

      Each person is assessed on an individual basis and from that assessment we determine what the user may or may not need. Please feel free to contact us to discuss this further if you like. One of our assessors can talk to you about any aspect of the seating for the user.

      Many thanks!
      Tristan

  4. Karen Amorin says:

    Hello
    Do you deliver to the republic of Ireland ?
    Best regards
    Karen Amorin

    1. Leanne Godfrey says:

      Hello Karen,

      Yes, several of our specialist chairs can be delivered outside the UK.
      I have asked my colleague to get in touch. They will be able to talk through your requirements in more detail and see how we can help.

      Many thanks,

      Leanne

  5. Haitham Barwani says:

    Hello am looking for a sofa for a Parkinson’s paitent he recently started tilting to one side, and needs a sofa that will help him stand up from a seating position easily.

    Would appreciate your swift response.

    1. Tristan Hulbert says:

      Thanks for your enquiry Haitham, I’ve asked one of our team to get in touch.
      Many thanks!
      Tristan

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