A Vacuum-Formed Upholstery Technique, A Universal Wheelchair Clamp, An Adjustable Self-Supporting

WILLIAM BRERETON, P. ENG. JACK HEATH ALLAN O'NEILL, C.O.(C)


A Vacuum-Formed Upholstery Technique

Specially contoured seating is used in the care and rehabilitation of persons suffering from many physical disabilities. These seats should ideally be covered with a material that "breathes" to avoid heat and moisture, hut in many cases the material must also he impervious to urine from the incontinent patient. The covering must also be flexible and elastic to avoid bridging across contours, thereby eliminating the benefits of padding and increasing the pressures on soft tissues.

One effective solution to these problems is to use a vacuum-formed vinyl material with an easily laundered terry-cloth cover. Thus the patient is kept off the vinyl to avoid heat and moisture problems, hut the seat is still protected from urine or spillage and can he easily kept clean.

The upholstery procedure starts with a contoured shell or contoured foam padding, whichever is suitable for the individual patient. Over this is termed a sheet of 6-mm (1/4-in.) ENSOLITE, a closed-cell foam alloy of rubber and polyvinyl chloride. This layer smooths out any saw cuts or flaws in the underlying material and hence reduces time and precision necessary for finishing the base shape. The 6-mm thickness must, of course, be considered along with the allowance for clothing thickness when making the contours. The final vinyl covering is then vacuum formed over the ENSOLITE. The vinyl is an unsupported PVC sheet with a thin foam backing and has the trade name RIVOLI. RIVOLI is easily formed and has excellent elasticity to avoid unwanted bridging. The RIVOLI and ENSOLITE are bonded with a contact adhesive which is applied to both surfaces prior to vacuum forming. The forming heat and pressure result in permanent adhesion.

ENSOLITE is available from Uniroyal of Kitchener, Ontario, and RIVOLI is available from Morbern Industries Ltd. of Cornwall, Ontario.

A Universal Wheelchair Clamp

It is often useful to fasten splints or special aids to a patient's wheelchair, but it is not always possible to get the necessary adjustability or cosmesis required. To overcome these problems a special clamp has been developed. Originally designed to support a gutter splint, this clamp has since been used on a number of different splints and devices, including the support of a joystick box for a foot-operated electric wheelchair. The clamp is seen in Figure 1 . It fits around the standard 22-mm (7/8-in.) diameter tubing and accepts any 6-mm (1/4-in.) diameter rod as the supported part. It allows full sliding and rotational adjustment and locks firmly with only moderate tightening of the locking screw. Details of the clamp are shown in Figure 2 .

An Adjustable Self-Supporting Prone Board

It is often advantageous to have severely handicapped children moved from a sitting position to a standing position for part of the day. To facilitate this treatment, a number of different prone boards have been designed; but they all lack either adjustability or the ability to stand free of fixed furniture or walls.

The prone board developed in Winnipeg has full adjustability for children from age 5 to age 12. The support areas for feet, knees, and torso are all easily and independently adjustable ( Figure 3 ). The board is free standing and can be adjusted to allow activity from floor level to table level. It is stable, and because it is self-supporting it can be used with small or lightweight furniture.

Note: Readers desiring additional details for fabrication of these devices may contact the authors at the Rehabilitation Engineering Department, Rehabilitation Centre, Health Sciences Centre, 800 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3A 1M4, Canada.