Wheelchair Seating Products - Backrests

Wheelchair back supports are more about posture, stability and support rather than pressure relief although there are some backs which have some pressure relief properties. Conventional wheelchair seat frames come standard with some type of back upholstery which many people will find sufficient for their needs but for those who need more, there are a variety of products available. All of the solid backs below come with hardware that allows for fairly easy removal of the back so the wheelchair can be folded.

The most basic of back supports, above the standard back upholstery, is a product known as adjustable tension back upholstery. Adjustable tension back upholstery looks like standard padded back upholstery but will open at the back to reveal  number of straps that can be tightened or loosened as needed. This product is helpful for people who have a bit of rounding in their spine that needs to be accommodated or people who may like or need a little extra lower back support. Adjustable tension back upholstery does not offer any type of lateral support.

Contoured solid back supports are a generic supports that have adjustment for angle and height built into their mounting hardware. They are usually available in a tall or standard height and sometimes can be ordered with larger lateral wings. While having lateral supports moulded into it's shape, a contoured solid back's laterals have no adjustability. A limited amount of customization can be done to this back support by opening the back cover and adding foam where needed.

These backs can also be used for creating a "foam in place" back support. Foam in place is a process where two chemicals are poured into a large plastic bag which when mixed together create a chemical reaction that produces foam. This plastic bag is placed inside the cover of the back next to the user's back. As the foam is created it flows through the back support, within the plastic bag, and moulds itself to the shape of the user sitting in the chair. While being a very comfortable and supportive back rest when the user is fitted properly, if the user is not seated exactly the same each time they use the wheelchair this back will not only be uncomfortable but actually create pressure points.

Invacare Personal Back

Flat backs are backs which are basically flat or slightly curved pieces of plywood with foam glued to the front and a cover added. They come in various standard wheelchair widths and heights. The mounting hardware for these backs allows for a little angle adjustment and some back height adjustment. The big advantage of this type of backrest is it's acceptance of many types of back accessories. Headrests, shoulder harnesses, lateral supports and chest straps are a few of the commonly added accessories to this type of back. People with kyphosis or lordosis are not great candidates for this type of back but people who require lateral support and upper chest support.

Invacare Curved Back Support

Biangular backrests can be made similar to the flat back above but some manufacturers will use metal in place of the plywood. A biangular backrest is hinged horizontally about 6" above the cushion of the wheelchair. This hinge allows for the back to be curved from a concave shape through to a convex shape. Once the shape of the curve required is determined it is locked into place to both accommodate and support the user's back. This back can also have accessories such as headrests, lateral supports and shoulder straps added. The mounting hardware on this back also is adjustable in depth, angle and height for greater versatility. Biangular backs provide the highest amount of adjustability on the market and can be used with almost any type of back support need.

Invacare Dual Flex Back

Custom back supports are made for those who cannot use off the shelf backrests like the ones described above. Usually a mould is made of the user's back and the custom back will be carved out of foam to meet the contours of the user's body. It is important that the user is consistently positioned properly when transferred into the wheelchair for the custom back to be a success. Badly positioned users will not only be uncomfortable, but will be in danger of developing pressure sores from a custom backrest.

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