Gravity Seat for Children with Complex Physical and Sensory Needs

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Clare Mason, Children’s Occupational Therapist @ Sefton Carers Centre/ Alderhey reviews her experience of our innovative foam positioning system for children with #specialneeds.

As an OT I was first made aware of the Gravity Chairs from a colleague a few years ago. Since that time I have assessed several children with this seating, all of which have gone on to use the system at home.  

The Gravity Chair is always positively received by both children and their parents who have found it a very child friendly seat. Both children and their parents love it: it looks like a gaming chair as opposed to looking too “disabled” which I think can be a factor at times.  

Why is it so good?

children with complex needs would benefit because it’s:

  1. Comfortable and uncomplicated to use
  2. Practical and manoeuvrable 
  3. good for postural alignment
  4. Provides pressure to keep children calm and regulated

a chair but so much more

Transfers can be made easily for children who are mobile. This is particularly helpful for our sensory children because we found the pressure from the sides of the chair is calming and regulating.

Therefore having the seat available allows children to access the seating when they feel they need it.  Assessments with children with these types of needs is fantastic.  Children who are constantly ‘on the go’ come into clinic and try the seat- often it is the first time parents have seen their child sit and settle in one place for any length of time.   It enables them to sit and focus on toys they like or books etc.  Often these children do not like to be strapped in or restrained, so the gravity seat allows them to get in and out of the seat on their terms.

It is also easy to transfer non-mobile children either physically or by hoist. The sunken reclined seat ensures good bottom placement. You can physically see the children relax once in the chair: they feel snug, supported and safe without the need for numerous straps to secure their position.

Practically any spills can be easily cleaned or wiped away. It’s lightweight to move it around the house or on holiday if you have the space in your car!!  Having a familiar item from home can be a good thing for some children.

Posturally the Gravity Seat is also a winner: the deep reclined seat and high sides ensures good postural alignment.  The wedge also provides the option to increase the tilt, which is useful for those children with weaker head control, so when they get tired increasing the tilt can help them rest their heads back.  

When children feel safe, secure and comfortable their muscle tone relaxes, allowing them to focus and enjoy play activities.  They may still require support, but to engage all children need to be comfortable above everything else.  Children who require supportive seating spend many hours strapped in functional seats and wheelchairs using harnesses or chest straps.  The gravity seat can give them seating away from all that, with only a lap strap required.

The gravity seat is not going to be suitable for every child, but don’t dismiss it until you’ve tried it.

What parents say:

“It’s the first time I’ve seen him actually sit still for any length of time”

“He is relaxed and able to focus on playing on his ipad”  

“He loves sitting in his chair”

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