Occupational Therapy Advice and Information

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Riser/Recliner armchairs:Info Icon

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    If your problem is that you have muscle weakness, general frailty or weakened, painful joints that make it difficult to stand from a standard chair safely and appropriately without risk of overbalancing or even possibly falling. For some people, who have weak legs or difficulty controlling their legs, this makes things harder and can result in you being unsteady when you try to stand from your standard chair.  You may therefore want to consider the purchase of an electrically operated Riser/Recliner Armchair.

    This should enable you to continue to carry out transfers independently and reduce the need for any Carer assistance.

    Riser Recliner Armchairs:

    • The chair will generally have a metal frame with scissor type mechanisms, which when pushed or pulled by the motor causes the chair to move in the desired direction.
    • These chairs provide you with a supportive seating system that enables you to carry out an assisted riser action to stand.
    • They provide you with a reclined position option that means that you can alter your position during the day to raise your legs up to improve general circulation, prevent you from becoming sore and provide more comfort. This is important if you have to sit in a chair for longer periods of time during the day because you can change your position as and when necessary.

    Riser Action:

    • All Riser/Recliner chairs work on the same basic principle – you press a button on a hand control and the seat and arms of the whole chair slowly raises you up so you can stand. If you take your hand off the hand control then the lifting mechanism will stop. This gives you complete control of the chair.
    • Usually the seat tips forward as well as going up, replicating the usual standing sequence, to help you get out of the chair.
    • Some chairs can be set up to go straight up without tipping forward, which can improve the lift for people with muscle weakness of the trunk.
    • Sitting down in the chair works in the opposite way – you position yourself back on the raised seat and press a button and the seat goes down slowly whilst you are able to keep your hands on the arm rests.

    Recliner Chair:

    • The leg rest should support the whole length of your legs to ensure you a comfortable and fully supportive position.
    • Some recliners let you lie right back with your legs out straight
    • Always remember that most Riser/Recliner chairs require space behind them to enable the back to recline so do not position them too close to a wall behind. They will require at least a 2 foot space behind the chair to enable it to fully recline. It is extremely important to ensure that the back of the chair does not hit the wall as this can cause the frame to bend, which is expensive to repair.
    • If you have limited space available, there are chairs designed to overcome this problem called wall huggers.
    • Some Riser/Recliners have emergency batteries to make sure you don’t get stuck in your chair in a power cut. Some can be supplied with rechargeable battery packs so they can be used away from a plug socket.
    • Most Riser/ Recliners come with the hand control on the right but if you can’t use your right hand, most Suppliers can supply it on the other side as long as you mention this when you order the chair.

    Tilt-in Space Chair:

    • This is a really important action if you need the Recliner option to relieve pressure and soreness. The whole chair tips back – back rest, seat, leg rest and all. This means that the back rest still supports your lower back and that your weight is spread evenly through your whole seat and back.
    • The reclining action of a Tilt-in Space Chair, where the whole seat tips backwards, not just the back rest, can be better, because it spreads your weight more evenly and it lifts your legs much higher and avoids uncomfortable (and possibly harmful) ‘shearing’ where the back rest moves separately from the seat and rubs against your back.
    • Some two or more motor chairs have both actions, so you get the benefits of tilt in space, but you can still get it all the way flat if you want this option as well.

    Single Motor Chairs:

    • A single motor chair lifts the leg rest and then reclines the back so you can sit with your feet up and your back upright or reclined.
    • Different chairs have different motions and recline to different degrees. On most single motor chairs, the footplate rises up before the backrest goes down. It is normal for this motion to become blurred as the footplate reaches its highest point and the two move in tandem. Once the footplate has reached its highest point the backrest will continue to recline.
    • Single motor chairs do not fully recline. It is normal for the recline action to only go back to an angle of 45 degrees. This is what is known as a comfortable TV watching angle. This angle also allows you to have conversations with others in the room.
    • Dual Motor Chairs
    • Two-motor chairs are more flexible because you can move the leg rest up and down and the back rest backwards and forwards independently. This means that you can remain sitting upright whilst also having the leg-rest up to support your legs.
    • The handset on a dual motor will have four or more buttons (an up and down switch for each motor). This can be slightly confusing at the outset but most people get used to it with practice. However, if you are buying the chair for someone who has dementia, it may be better to go for a single motor chair with its greater simplicity.

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