The kids at the For His Children Orphanage in Ecuador spend most of their time in wheelchairs. When NU Physical Therapy professors looked at pictures of the children from the previous visit, they noticed that they weren’t being positioned properly, which causes poor posture. Children who develop poor posture are particularly vulnerable to a host of health problems. Chief among them are muscle fatigue, a result of compensating for an inefficient skeleton, and increased strain on the spine, neck, hips, and knees that cascades into structural problems as children grow. Downstream effects include joint pain, reduced flexibility, asymmetrical muscle tightness, and deformity. Beyond the skeletal system, poor posture leads to uneven pressure on skin. Excess pressure, combined with shear and moisture from spending the day in a wheelchair, leaves the children at significantly higher risk of forming decubitus ulcers (bed sores).
The team designed and fabricated a set of foam supports. When the children at the For His Children Orphanage use their wheelchairs, the caretakers use the supports to position them properly and maintain good posture throughout the day. The supports are adjustable to accommodate the children as they grow.
The Positioning Pads were delivered to and tested at the orphanage in March, 2016.