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A new white paper, published by Permobil, considers how the use of standing wheelchairs impacts on clinical outcomes after research was conducted by their clinical and research teams.

As wheelchair users spend much of their time seated, there can be consequences to the length of time they may remain in a seated position. Standing wheelchairs may offer the benefits of maintaining a more upright posture as well as providing the user with the ability to change position.

In an upright position, oxygen is able to circulate more freely as the respiratory muscles and organs are less restricted by gravity and pressure. When standing, pressure is reduced, and the spine is stabile enabling improved respiratory function. Likewise, blood flow circulation is enhanced, particularly in the lower part of the body, distributing oxygen around the body more efficiently.

Similarly, as bone health, density and strength is supported by load bearing exercise including bearing our own body weight, using a standing wheelchair supports bone density and strength and helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis as well as reducing the possibility of upper body muscle strains.

Correctly positioned pressure relief cushions are an important aid for avoiding pressure sores for wheelchair users. A standing wheelchair means that users can often avoid pressure on the usual contact areas which allows blood to circulate more freely, as well as the benefits of stretching lower limb muscles more frequently and enabling users to access new positions and activities or even reduce the adaptations necessary at home.

The report also showed that standing wheelchair users often benefit from an increased ability to communicate and feel more socially confident and integrated, while children can participate better in educational and social activities, leading to improvements in self-esteem and mental health.

Karin Leire, vice president of research and innovation at Permobil, said:

 “Thanks to the clinical team, we were able to preface the evidence by first explaining the effects on specific body systems and functions.We were then able to provide clear evidence of the benefits of standing connected to each function and showed the impact for both children and adults.