Conor gets to watch TV comfortably in his Comfee Seat
Conor is a 15 year old young man with Cerebral Palsy Spastic Quadriplegia. However, Conor doesn’t let that stop him. He is actively involved in school as a Whizz-Kidz ambassador, and recently beat off stiff national competition to be awarded the Whizz-Kidz Inspirational Young Person of 2013, receiving his award from Chris Martin of Coldplay. Well done Conor!
Conor’s pelvis is fixed in posterior pelvic tilt, and he sits on his sacrum. Combined with him being a tall, slender young man, he has had skin breakdown at his sacrum in the past, making sufficient pressure relief a priority. Conor’s legs are windswept to the right, and his left leg is significantly shorter due to earlier hip surgery. Conor’s hamstrings are very tight, which contributes to him sacral sitting when his chair is not configured to accommodate them. Conor uses a power wheelchair with a left hand joystick and as a result, his abilities can be classified as level IV on the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) and level 1 on the Chailey box sitting scale.
Goals for Sitting
• Provide a comfortable and relaxing alternative to wheelchair sitting
• Provide adjustment to accommodate Conor’s pelvic tilt and tight hamstrings
• Provide a chair which allows Conor to spend time with his family in the evening without having to lie on the sofa or go to bed
We first met Conor in April 2012 at school, when he agreed to try our first Comfee Seat prototype. This enabled our designers along with our Occupational Therapy colleagues to see the good points and suggest changes that would further improve the seat.
Conor stated that he felt very comfortable, and he even agreed to put the next version of the Comfee Seat through its paces at home where he said he would be able to watch TV in comfort!
In August 2012, the second Comfee Seat prototype was ready and, with a small army of engineers and designers in tow, we took it out to Conor’s house, along with the Xsensor pressure mapping system.
Some changes, such as the angle adjustable gables proved an ongoing success, while others like the padded pelvic harness didn’t work so well in practice. Back to the drawing board for the design team!
Pressure mapping Conor on the seat yielded a consistent peak pressure corresponding to his sacrum. While this didn’t become more pronounced over the 30 minute measurement phase, and is consistent with Conor’s seated posture, the engineers decided to source and test different foam combinations. Conor however, still said he felt very comfortable.
Follow up with the family a couple of months later was that, although Conor was comfortable, there were some adjustments that the family found difficult to make, especially when Conor was in the chair. This was fed back to our design and engineering teams.
Now February 2013, the third iteration of the Comfee Seat sees new pelvic support, foot pad, and gas spring adjustment.
While Conor is putting the new chair through its paces at home (and falling asleep after school in it), the chair is also reviewed by a range of therapists at Naidex in Birmingham in May 2013, where some further recommendations are made. We’re nearly there!
Ready for launch in September 2013 and the Comfee Seat has seen the last of its major changes. Mechanisms have been refined while the colour choices have been decided upon. The pelvic support is easily adjustable and neat fitting, and the footplate now has a negative angle adjustment to better accommodate tight hamstrings. New foam has been sourced, and with an overlay of memory foam, our in-house tests show lower peak pressures and greater surface area immersion than the same depth of standard foam.
For Conor, his pelvis is securely held by the four-point harness; his tight hamstrings are accommodated by opening the seat to back angle (recline); and lateral support is provided at his pelvis and lower trunk by the angle adjustable armrests, allowing an upright trunk and midline head positioning.
Conor’s family now find it easier to manoeuvre and adjust, and Conor is watching TV in comfort!