Too Weak To Sit Straight

Posted on February 11, 2013. Filed under: Balance-Based Torso-Weighting, Elderly | Tags: , , , , |

I had the opportunity to work with therapists from Life Care Centers of America last weekend. One of the patients we evaluated was a 92 year old female who was slumped over to the right and leaning forward in her chair. We couldn’t see her face just the part of her silver hair. She was very weak and frail. When we transferred her to the mat she required moderate assist. Sitting required very close supervision. We did the Balance-Based Torso-Weighting assessment and strategically weighted her posterior on the left and also forward. This allowed her to sit more neutral. When we added the rigid support of the trial lumbar sacral support she sat up and we could see her beautiful smile and blue eyes. The therapist had measured her oxygen saturation at 92 with a pulse oximeter prior to this treatment. When we transferred her back to the chair and she rested a few minutes her oxygen saturation was now vacillating between 93/94. This reading was taken after work which should produce lower oxygen saturation. She was able to produce a productive cough and clear phlegm. She also stated, “I feel straighter.” When we went to trial walking she scooted easier and stood with contact guard assist.
Why do patients sit slumped in their chairs? Are they really as demented as they may seem or do they just need balance and postural support to allow them to be upright and see the world? Think about the social isolation patients have when they cannot hold their head up to socialize. What consequences happen with the frail body that is unable to be upright for breathing and other bodily functions? Do we need to look at providing external support and balance? Was this a fluke or do you think providing the external support allowed better oxygen saturation?


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