Why Do We See Elderly Wheelchair Users With Their Head Dropped Down?

The short answer is because of an ill-fitting wheelchair.  When someone uses a wheelchair that doesn’t fit them they will compromise proper seating positioning for short term comfort. However, there are solutions that can improve the comfort and life of an elderly wheelchair user.

What is the cause of the elderly head dropping?

The prime cause for the elderly user’s head dropping is lack of stable trunk support because they are using the incorrect wheelchair. This lack of trunk support leads to the user adjusting their body to find a more “comfortable” position. As well as the head dropping, the lack of trunk support can also lead to pressure ulcers, lack of social engagement, and possible scoliosis. 

Without the support of a properly fitted seating system, elderly user’s will start to slide forward and their head start to drop. Source: S-Ergo Seating 

How to select the right wheelchair? 

Each elderly wheelchair user has different needs or symptoms. Therefore there is no one wheelchair to suit all elderly users. Each user should choose a wheelchair with the features or necessary adjustments to suit their needs. To find out which wheelchair is more suited to an elderly user, there are three levels of mobility to make it easier to understand the kind of requirements they need. 

1. The user cannot walk very fast or far

This group has the ability to walk short distances indoors, maybe with the aid of a cane or walker. When they go outdoors for medium to long distances, they will benefit from using a standard lightweight wheelchair.

2. The user can’t walk but can sit steadily

This group cannot walk, so when transferring them in and out of a wheelchair, their safety is the most important. A transfer wheelchair with removable armrests and footrests will make shifting them easier for the carer. 

3. The user is unable to walk or sit independently 

The goal for these users is to make them as comfortable as possible without risking secondary injuries. Positioning wheelchairs with reclining positioning change will allow the user to safely reduce pressure sores and increase seating stability. 

There isn’t one simple solution to solve every sitting problem, only the best solution. At Karma we believe that a better wheelchair will provide the better fit for the user to suit their condition or needs.

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