Prolonged Sitting due to Medical Conditions

Many people, because of certain disabilities, diseases and conditions spend long periods of time sitting or confined to bed.  If their condition creates secondary postural or medical complications, properly seating this person can become more challenging.  Incorrect seating can, for example, limit their social interaction, their physiological functions and the ability to carry out small tasks such as eating, drinking or reading a book.

Therefore, maximising the ability to interact and remain engaged with their surroundings as well as maintaining good overall skin care, respiration and so on, become important considerations when selecting seating.

Note: This guidance is based on general presentations of each condition.  It is important to seek specific advice from a medical practitioner that is familiar with the individual needs of the patient being considered.

Click on the conditions below for more information:

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading form of dementia found in elderly patients marked by the slow degeneration of person’s cognitive function due to impaired communication between nerve cells in the brain.

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Brain injuries are caused by external force or trauma jarring the brain, causing varying degrees of brain dysfunction. This usually happens due to a violent blow to the head or body or an object penetrating the skull. Mild brain injuries may only have a temporary dysfunction of brain cells.

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Cerebral palsy occurs when parts of the brain that control muscles are damaged, causing varying degrees of lifelong disability. There is a wide spectrum disability within CP, ranging from mild physical disabilities to more severe cognitive and physical disabilities both.

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Cerebral vascular accidents, more commonly known as a stroke, occur in two different ways by different causes. The majority of strokes, – about 80% – are called ischematic strokes and are caused by stopped blood flow to brain, usually due to a blood clot blocking the blood vessel and therefore not enough oxygen getting to the brain.

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Huntington’s disease is an inherited genetic disorder causing the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain resulting in involuntary movements and neuromuscular deterioration.

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Motor neuron disease is the destruction of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control the ability to use muscles and it typically manifests after forty years of age. Nerve cells that are affected are the upper motor neurons from the brain to the spinal cord and lower motor neurons that enter the muscles further away from the spine.

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Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s cells fail to recognize other cells as part of the body and attacks them. In MS, the cells being attacked are called myelin, which are a layer of protein that protects nerve fibres in the spinal cord and helps with the transmission of electrical signals from the brain to the rest of the body.

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Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disorder that causes muscle degeneration and weakness, progressing to the point where the individual does not have the strength to stand or sit up without support. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common, effecting boys only as women carry the gene and pass it on to half their male children.

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Parkinson’s disease is the destruction of nerve cells and depletion of dopamine, a chemical in the body responsible for smooth normal movements. It can be caused due to a genetic predisposition or environmental factors like exposure to metal poisoning, viral infection or side effects to drugs. People are living longer and so the incidence of Parkinson’s disease has increased as the disease is related to age.

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Spina bifida is a congenital defect of the neural tube(i), where the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, resulting in defects of the spinal cord and vertebrae. The severity of the defect depends on the size and location of defect, whether skin covers it and which spinal nerves come out of affected area and can be classified into three categories of Spina bifida. The first two, Spina bifida occulta and Spina bifida meningocle are the mild forms of Spina bifida

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Spinal cord injuries occur when the vertebrae protecting the spinal cord are broken or displaced, thus affecting the nerves within it. They can occur due to compressing the spine, stretching the spine too much or tearing the spinal cord, either by a foreign object or the adjacent bone. When this happens, it leads to the loss of sensation in parts of the body, a diminished ability to move muscles or at the very worst, paraplegia(i) or quadriplegia(ii).

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