Category: Classroom Chair

Firm Back Support For Chairs

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--- "DO IT YOURSELF" ENTRY ------- DESCRIPTION: A sturdy, padded support for use with school chairs. Height and thickness can be customized to suit a particular student’s needs.
PURPOSE: 1. To provide firm support for the student’s back while I a chair, improving trunk stability and providing a stable base from which to the arms for functional tasks.
2. To reduce the seat depth of a chair, allowing the student to sit upright with the pelvis in neutral position and feet flat on the floor or a support surface.
Adding a back support to a chair will reduce the seat, depth so be sure to use a chair that is deep enough to accommodate the planned support.
MATERIALS USED: 1. A chair as close to the dimension required by the child as possible.
2. Triwall material-about 18 inches by 32 inches.
3. 1 inch thick polyurethane (soft) foam-about 18 -32 inches.
4. Vinyl material-about 25 by 40 inches.
5. Optional: Strapping and or Velcro-for straps to attach support to chair.
6. Optional: 2 inch thick polyethylene (hard) foam-for a very thick back support.
TOOLS: Razor knife, band saw, steak knife or jigsaw; heavy-duty scissors; heavy duty staple gun; metal tap measure; marker.
1.HEIGHT: Make sure the child is sitting upright on the chosen chair with pelvis in neutral and feet supported on a flat surface. Measure from the seat surface of the chair (from behind the buttocks) to the bottom of the shoulder blades (inferior angle of the scapula), if the child has good trunk control. If the child requires full trunk support, measure to the top of the shoulder. If head support is required, measure from the seat surface to the top of the head.
2.WIDTH: at least equal to the width of the student’s back.
3.THICKNESS: subtract the desired seat depth from the actual seat depth of the chair.
1.First draw a rectangle on the Triwall material using the height and width measurements obtained above. Cut the Triwall, using a razor knife, steak knife, band saw or jigsaw.
2.Cut out a rectangle of polyurethane (soft) foam the same size as the Triwall. You can use the Triwall piece you have just made as a pattern, tracing it onto the foam with a marker. Use heave duty scissors to cut foam.
3.Cut out a rectangle in the vinyl material that is approximately 7 inches longer and 7 inches wider than the size of the Triwall, for allowance when folding the vinyl over to the back of the Triwall and foam. If you are adding extral layers of hard foam or Triwall to increase the thickness of the back support (see step 5), add an additional 2 inches to both the length and width of the vinly piece for each added piece of “thickening”.
4. If the thickness of the foam and triwall together equal your thickness measurement, then assemble you back support as follows: Lay the vinyl face down on your work surface. Center the foam on the vinyl. Then lay the triwall on top of the foam, so that the edges are aligned with foam. Now begin stapling the vinyl to the back of the Triwall, using a heavy-duty staple gun. For best results, anchor the center of each side with a few staples to hold all the parts together, and then work outward towards the corners. Overlap corner fabric and staple down. Trim off the excess vinyl material after stapling.
5.If the thickness of the foam and the triwall together does not equal your thickness measurement, add an additional piece of Triwall between the Triwall base and the foam. If 2 inches or more of additional thickness is needed, add a layer of polyethylene (hard) foam between the Triwall and the soft foam. Then cover with vinyl material as described in step #4
6.OPTIONAL: Straps can be made of webbing and/or Velcro to attach the back support to the back of the chair. Simply staple the straps to the back of the back support.
7. OPTIONAL: Staple another piece of vinyl (same size as the Triwall) to the back of the back support, if it is preferred that the Triwall not be visible at all. Fold the edges in on the vinyl before stapling it to the Triwal..

Author: JoAnn Kluzik, MS, PT, PCS, Physical Therapist while working at Cotting School.


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