Wheelchair Positioning for the Bariatric Patient

Ask the Expert

What is the optimal wheelchair positioning for obese individuals with a majority of their weight around their hips? Are there specific positioning techniques to utilize so that they can assist with pushing the wheelchair?

Kirsten Davin, OTD, OTR/L, ATP, SMS responds:

In terms of obesity, keep in mind that a lot of times you will have clients with a notable gluteal shelf. By that, I am referring to the fact that when you look at the client laterally, you would see the client’s back and then, as their back continues down towards the buttocks, there is excess tissue on the actual buttocks area. A lot of times, if you were to look at an individual, you may actually have four, five or six inches of tissue behind the actual back of the person that you have to accommodate for. There’s one thing you can do. If we go back to our sacrum to popliteal fossa measurement (our upper leg length measurement) you can actually take two measurements instead. To read more, click here.

Interested in learning more and earning your CEUs? Check out courses by Kirsten Davin, OTD, OTR/L, ATP, SMS available online in recorded, audio and text-based formats on PhysicalTherapy.com.