Best riser recliner chair for Parkinson’s disease
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that primarily affects movement. The most common clinical features of Parkinson’s are caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a chemical that helps control movement (RCOT 2018). If you, a relative, or someone you support have Parkinson’s, you’ll probably know the main motor symptoms are:
- Tremor: usually in the limbs, jaw, or head, when resting
- Rigidity: high muscle tone and stiffness
- Slowness of movement (known as bradykinesia)
These symptoms reduce mobility and lead to postural instability. As the disease progresses it can cause other non-motor symptoms including insomnia, depression, and problems with bodily functions, such as bladder control and digestion.
The way the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease impact mobility can lead to challenges with seating including:
- Difficulty or delay in initiating movement makes getting up from a chair difficult
- Tremors or involuntary movements means the person is at risk of sliding out of a chair, or falling when transitioning from sitting to standing
- Rigidity and/or contractures leading to an abnormal posture, such as leaning to one side, or a dropped head (increasing the risk of a fixed scoliosis or kyphosis)
- Pain and difficulty getting comfortable
What are the benefits of a riser recliner chair for Parkinson’s disease?
First, the mechanics. A chair with a riser function provides support and propulsion to transition from sitting to standing, significantly reducing the risk of falls. The recline function helps to manage posture and provide comfort. A good sitting posture can benefit someone with Parkinson’s, including making swallowing easier, supporting digestion and improving speech (by enabling better breathing). A suitable riser recliner chair can also provide a safe way to manage daytime sleepiness that results from insomnia or as a side-effect of medication. With the right solution, you can achieve optimum quality of life by supporting your health needs and maximising your independence.
What is the best riser recliner chair for Parkinson’s disease?
A riser recliner chair for Parkinson’s disease should:
- Be the right size…
…to support your mobility, enable good posture and ensure your safety. For example, the seat width should provide enough support to prevent you from slumping to one side in your chair. Likewise, the seat height must allow you to sit with your feet flat on the floor and maintain that contact as you stand up.
- Accommodate good posture and pressure care
We’ve discussed the health benefits of good posture for Parkinson’s, but we shouldn’t overlook pressure management as a critical component for anyone spending long periods sitting. Regular repositioning should be enabled but it’s also important to note that constant involuntary movement in a chair can also put someone with Parkinson’s at higher risk of skin tears from shear and friction, so appropriate pressure relief technology should be specified as indicated.
- Be future proof
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease so it’s important to consider how needs might change. For example, you may be able to independently transfer in and out of your chair using the rise function, but is the riser recliner compatible with standing aids and patient lifts, should it be required in future? Can the seating be adjusted to accommodate changing postural needs?
Riser recliner features and options that can be helpful for Parkinson’s disease include:
- Tilt in Space
Tilt in Space encourages pelvic stability at the back of the chair to reduce the risk of sliding down or falling from the chair. It’s also an important part of pressure management and can support good energy management for those who experience weakness and fatigue.
- Variable Angle Lift
This allows you to adjust the angle at which your chair rises, so you can optimise the support it provides as you stand. This can be particularly helpful for someone with Parkinson’s where you may have a reduced range of joint movement in your knees, for example. It can also accommodate the use of standing aids and transfer devices with your riser recliner chair.
- Lateral Support Backrest
This helps to prevent slumping to one side in your chair and encourages a stable, upright posture for good organ function.
So, what is the best riser recliner chair for Parkinson’s disease?
As much as we would like to present you with one definitive model that is the best choice for everyone with Parkinson’s, we can’t honestly give you a one-size-fits-all solution. Our professional seating assessment will enable you to find the right solution for your needs. However, we can highlight a model that has all the right ingredients to make a good choice for Parkinson’s: the Ashore Haven.
What makes the Ashore Haven a good riser recliner chair for Parkinson’s disease?
When is a riser recliner chair not suitable for a person with Parkinson’s disease?
While a configurable riser recliner chair like the Ashore Haven may the best choice for many people with Parkinson’s disease, there will be some for whom it’s not a good option. For example, a person who already has advanced-stage Parkinson’s may no longer be able to transfer to and from a chair independently, making the rise function redundant. At this stage, requirements are likely to focus on a high level of postural support and optimising safe moving & handling for carers. This is where a care chair rather than a riser recliner chair may be a more suitable option.
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