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 twisted, internal organs can be displaced and the person experiences severe pain for the rest of their lives.

Fred's Story

The vast majority of people are born with a symmetrical body shape. Fred had a diagnosis of quadriplegic cerebral palsy and was able to move himself around on the floor. However, he did not receive good care, and developed a severe twist in his spine which ultimately caused his death at the age of 23. Fred was limited in the amount he could move, and so he was forced to stay in one position for much of the day. Gravity pulled his muscles and bones down which caused his chest to rotate and squashed his lungs and stomach. This was not a quick process. You can see from his X-rays that Fred’s posture gradually deteriorated as he got older. As Fred’s body shape worsened, it caused chest infections, swallowing problems and pain. Fred died of health complications which were the direct result of the dramatic changes to his body shape.

These extreme distortions to a person’s body are not inevitable. Fred, like many others, may not have died if he had received good postural care, such as a sleep system, a specially designed wheelchair or regular exercise in childhood.

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. Read the Postural Care Leaflet here.

National Postural Care Strategy

Changing Our Lives facilitated a national working group on postural care. This group has been working on a national strategy for postural care, highlighting best practice examples and making recommendations for the future, such as an agreed set of body measurements so people’s body shape can be accurately monitored. This group is made up of family members, universities, professionals such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists, colleges, residential care providers and equipment manufacturers. The strategy is currently in draft form and can be accessed via the link below.

If you would like to find out more about this work, ask for Jayne Leeson on 0300 302 0770 or email Jayne at [email protected]