Ziggi Landsman

Young lady in a power standing wheelchair shopping in a supermarket.When it comes to standing wheelchairs (standers), I have come to realize that society’s take has more to do with the up-front act of standing itself and less to do with what is happening behind the scene.

In most cases the focus, when it comes to standers, is on standing and not on the multitude of other benefits that are waiting in the wings.

It seems that we as Americans have elevated standing to an almost patriotic level, or at least raised it to a level beyond that of other positions. For example, there is a very positive inference in “Stand up and be counted”. There is similar status in “Stand up for your rights”. Compare that to the negative implications of “Are you going to take that lying down” or “Are you going to sit still for that”. I guess you can’t be proactive from any position other than standing. Tough break wheelchair users!

All kidding aside, what standing wheelchairs have going against them is their success at doing what they are designed to do, that is standing people up.

It is very dramatic and fulfilling to see a person sitting one minute and then suddenly (with little effort these days) they are up and staring you right in the face. It’s hard to think and visualize beyond that event and to consider all of the other benefits that are not visible and not obvious at that moment. The standing wheelchair user and their clinicians may understand the array of benefits associated with standing. The public often only sees and appreciates the physical act itself.

Some behind the scene benefits of standing:

Improves accessibility in and out of the home
Helps to burn more calories
Improves bowel and bladder function
Relieves pressure on parts of the body at risk for tissue trauma
Lowers risk of type2 diabetes and obesity
Promotes socialization
Helps ease chronic joint and back pain
Decreases spasticity
Helps to prevent joint contractures
Improves self-esteem
Increases independence
Helps in maintaining bone density
Improves circulation and cardiac function
Improves lower extremity range of motion
Improves quality of life
Improves the quality of peer to peer encounters
Decreases the risk of developing depression
Improves respiration
Improves motor function and balance
Decreases the risk of urinary tract infection

As in all good things, there are those times when use of a stander is not recommended. These may include those instances where a person’s condition precludes any standing. It is important to discuss standing with your physician or rehab team prior to venturing onto the standing stage.

Types of Standing Wheelchairs

Manual push with manual stand
Manual push with power assist stand
Power mobility with manual stand
Power mobility and power stand

Oh yes, if you are thinking of asking your care funder to spring for a stander, get your war paint on. You may well be in for a fight.