We all need to look after our posture. For some of us it's as simple as sitting up correctly at our computer. But for those of us who struggle to move our own bodies, for example if we have a complex disability, looking after our posture is even more important. If we don’t look after our posture, this can lead to debilitating health complications.
Some disabled people with complex physical disabilities need good postural care support, otherwise over time their bodies become so twisted, internal organs can become displaced and the person experiences pain most days of their lives.
Here is an example of how a person’s body symmetry can change over time - the images that follow are copyright to Simple Stuff Works Ltd.
Fred Aged 3. Fred had a diagnosis of quadriplegic cerebral palsy and was able to move himself around on the floor.
Fred aged 10. At this age we can start to see the impact of gravity on Fred’s body shape. He sleeps on his side, a position that introduces lots of twists into the body. You can see that his chest is starting to rotate, his spine moving towards Fred’s left whilst the front of his chest rotates round towards his right.
Fred Aged 17. Sadly Fred’s body shape worsens with the onset of puberty and his growth spurt. You can see that Fred’s chest has continued to rotate, the space of his internal organs has been severely affected and he suffered with multiple chest infections. His pelvis has also rotated and is much higher on his right hand side. In fact his pelvis is now tucked underneath his rib cage.
When postural problems are this complex, they can be a silent killer for many people with complex physical disabilities.
Making people aware of good postural care improves quality of life and can in some extreme circumstances be lifesaving. Postural care support can include a wheelchair designed for the person’s needs, individually designed seating, a standing frame, night-time supports such as special cushions, to help them sleep straight, regular exercise or active therapy programmes devised by physiotherapists or occupational therapists. For some basic information about postural care, read this leaflet.
The Got My Back Campaign makes us all aware that we need to look after our posture. These 4 films highlight how important good postural care is and what happens when postural care goes wrong:
What is postural care? Why should you look after your posture, and how should you do it?
Two young people with cerebral palsy wrote a poem about how they look after their body shape and stay active in their everyday lives.
Harry is an older gentleman who had a stroke. Whilst he received very kind care, his posture was not correctly supported. Sitting in bed for a year caused his body shape to change and crushed his internal organs, which made him more susceptible to infections, and less able to fight them off.
Postural care doesn't have to be boring! Looking after your posture means changing position, doing sports and having fun. Here Katy, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, tries sit skiing at her local snowdome.