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What is Tilt-in-Space? What are the Benefits?

Product shot of a care chair with the tilt in space function in action.

A key topic for seating and mobility professionals to consider when evaluating moving & handling as well as positioning options for patients is tilt in space.

Knowing the definition and benefits of tilt-in-space (TiS) can also really help when choosing a chair for yourself or someone else. Whether it’s a rise and recline chair, a care chair, or even a wheelchair, tilt-in-space can be extremely beneficial in all cases.

The tilt in space feature in a rise and recline chair or a mobility aid is also extremely important in preventing pressure injuries and sores from developing.

With this in mind, let’s take a look what the definition of tilt-in-space and how it could potentially benefit you and influence your specialist seating options.

So let’s have a look at what tilt-in-space is and its benefits.

What is Tilt-in-Space?

Inactive and sedentary lifestyles are a growing crisis amongst whole UK population as a whole with around 20 million adults in the UK being insufficiently active. This sedentary behaviour brings the potential for health complications for the public at large.

The potential for health complications caused from being sedentary grows amongst those with enforced inactivity such as elderly or disabled people & hospital bound patients and people with mobility issues.

Tilt-in-space is a function on certain specialist seating chairs that physically tilts the seated person backwards without changing their position. The tilt in space function maintains the angle of the hips, knees, and ankles to keep the user in the same position no matter how much the seating area moves.

Simply put, the tilt function on a specialist chair repositions a patient by tilting the chair in a way that lowers the seated person’s head and rises their feet at the same time.

Sedentary lifestyles are a problem among the entire population – Source

What Are The Benefits of Tilt In Space?

When you are in a normal seating position, you’ll find that most of your body weight will go through your buttocks and thighs. Then a smaller portion will go through your feet, and an even tinier amount will go through your back and arms.

Tilting someone who is seated in a chair represents a shift in weight bearing from the traditional seating position which puts most of your body weight on the lower sacrum area.

The tilting motion shifts that weight onto the back surface of the chair.

A bar chart showing how body weight distributes when sat down and not in a tilt-in-space chair.
Here you can see a breakdown of just how much of your body weight is distributed when seated.

Who Needs Tilt In Space?

The pressure relieving function of tilt in space chairs is best when used in specialist seating for patients who can be expected to be seated for prolonged periods of time.

This can be individuals with disabilities who use a tilt in space wheelchair when out and about, or elderly patients with mobility issues who may use a chair with the tilt in space function to stay comfortable when at home.

What is a Tilt In Space Chair?

With a tilt in space chair, it is possible for the seated person to maintain the correct posture while being tilted so pressure is distributed evenly across the body. This reduces shearing and lessens the chances of pressure injuries developing, even when sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Do Tilt-in-Space Chairs Help with Pressure Relief?

Yes, they do. In fact, pressure relief is a key benefit of the tilt-in-space function in specialist seating.

Pressure injuries and sores develop when excess amounts of pressure are placed on one part of the body for a prolonged period of time.

Tile-in-space plays a large role in preventing pressure sores from developing as it evenly distributes weight across the whole body.

What’s Wrong With How I’m Sitting Now?

If you sit in the standard seating position for a long time, you might find that your bottom goes numb or you get pins and needles. Over a prolonged period, this can lead to pressure ulcers.

With tilt-in-space, you can help to redistribute the person’s body weight over a larger surface area to help spread any pressure and therefore reduce pressure build-ups.

The tilt will position the person so more of their body weight goes through their back, which helps combat pressure injuries and keeps them more comfortable.

What Is The Correct Amount of Tilt To Use?

How much tilt to use will vary between patients, it can also vary between equipment. The required tilt when in a rise and recline or care chair may be different from what is required in a tilt in space wheelchair.

Generally, greater angles of recline are used to reduce pressure injuries.

While lesser angles are used to maintain good posture and stop a patient from sliding in the chair. For more on sliding and falling, take a look at our tips on how to stop someone from falling out of a chair.

A 2010 investigation concluded that wheelchair tilt in space should “be at least 35° for enhancing skin perfusion over the ischial tuberosity when combined with recline at 100°.

The study goes on to state that “wheelchair tilt in space should be at least 25° when combined with recline at 120°.”

As a rule of thumb, staying at angles between 30 and 45 degrees should be sufficient for pressure relief of posture correcting needs.

If a patient is at high risk of pressure injuries, then a tilt of around 45 degrees might be needed to help blood flow to key areas and redistribute pressure.

Will Tilt-in-Space Help with Positioning?

If you have a client who has issues with their positioning and you need to help them maintain better posture, then tilt-in-space can help with this as well.

This function can make all the difference for people with less trunk and head control.

The chair is able to help with the users comfort and aid in maintaining correct posture.

By tilting back ever-so-slightly, you’ll find that your spine will straighten out and your head is more central. This helps to prevent things like kyphosis and leaning which can be detrimental to your health and quality of life.

An angle between 15° and 30° should help you attain better postural control.

Summary

Tilt-in-space is used in many care chairs and riser recliners to help you stay comfortable and healthy when sat down. There are many benefits and we highly recommend you include it in any specifications for client who you think would benefit from it.

If you want to try out a tilt-in-space chair for one of your clients, give us a call on 01423 799960, get in touch with us on the website and we’ll be happy to help.

For more information on specialist seating and how to prescribe it, take a look at our free specialist seat ebook.

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Brian Chege
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