The right seating is really important for your comfort and posture whether you're at home, at work, studying or out and about. It’s relevant to someone who’s still walking and to someone who’s a full-time wheelchair user.
If you’re a full-time wheelchair user, your wheelchair seat is very important. The key elements are: a firm base cushion which will encourage a level pelvis; firm back support which will encourage an erect posture; arm rests at the correct height; foot rests at the correct level so there’s a 90 degree angle at the hips, knees and feet. If the seating in your chair is no longer comfortable or supportive, contact your physio or OT about a re-assessment. If you don’t have a physio or OT, ask your neuromuscular consultant or GP for a referral. You may also be referred to Wheelchair Services for a review. You can find related information in the section: Powered Mobility.
If you’re not a full-time wheelchair user, it’s still important that you get expert advice about any seating needs you have at home and work, including making sure that any wheelchair you use part-time is suitable for you (see the Mobility section).
If you aren’t being seen regularly by an OT or physio or neuromuscular consultant, ask your GP for a referral to one to assess your needs at home. If your seating at work is causing you discomfort or affecting your posture adversely, talk to the manager responsible for your health and safety at work. If you haven’t already had an assessment you may be eligible to ask for one. See the section on Access to Work.
Page last reviewed / updated: April 2021
Next review due: April 2022
Options For People Who Can Stand And Walk
Riser Recliner Chairs
If you need to sit in a chair for any length of time, a riser recliner chair can be useful, enabling you to change position by reclining the back and / or lifting your legs. To help you get up and out of the chair, usually the seat tips forward as well as rising. This can be unsafe for people with muscle weakness in their legs, so you may need to consider a riser recliner which can be set to rise straight up without tipping. Any chair being considered should be trialled prior to purchase to ensure it's both comfortable and safe to use.
The Living made easy website gives an idea of the range of different models and your OT can advise on what features are right for you:
These can be helpful in the kitchen or bathroom for short-term use to simply rest whilst carrying out a personal care or domestic task. The seat is angled forwards and the overall height of the stool can be adjusted as required to enable the user to reach a sink or worktop for example.
You can browse different options and ideas to discuss with your OT / physio on the Disabled Living Foundation: Living Made Easy website: livingmadeeasy.org.uk/category/at-home/beds-and-chairs/perching-stools
If you’re assessed as needing it, your OT should be able to supply some specialist seating for home use free via the NHS or the Local Authority.
If you fulfil the eligibility criteria, seating needs for Access to Work may be funded via Access to Work.
If you want to apply for help to buy additional or specialist seating, Support Services at SMA UK can suggest charities that may provide a grant. Most charities won’t fund if you've already bought the item, so it’s important not to place an order or pay any deposit until all your funding has been secured or pledged.
Most charities will need:
- a letter from your OT / physio to say that the seating you 've chosen is suitable, safe and meets your needs and that the NHS / LA is unable to provide funding.
- your quote from the supplier detailing costs, including any extra accessories and delivery. Seating may be subject to VAT if it hasn’t been ‘designed solely for disabled people’ (the general rule for whether an item is VAT exempt). You need to ask the supplier to check with the manufacturer about this.
You can find related information in the Living With SMA section:
Funding for Equipment