OBSS Ortho-Shape Back: Jack's success story
For an individual who relies entirely on a wheelchair for mobility, anything that increases comfort and support is a welcome addition to the wheelchair seating configuration. Not only does the new Ottobock Ortho Shape wheelchair back provide Jack Dunn with needed postural support, it also gives him more freedom of movement.
“He is more relaxed and comfortable now,” reports Jack’s father, Jim Dunn.
Jack is 18 years old and has cerebral palsy. He lives at home in Oregon with his father and twin sister. He is paraparetic, nonverbal, and has intellectual impairment. Although his left hip is permanently dislocated and he has developed contractures in his hamstrings and both wrists, he has some independent movement in his hands and legs. He needs assistance with all of his personal activities of daily living and depends on a wheelchair pushed by a caregiver for mobility.
To help manage his posture, Jack is rotated between his bed, wheelchair, and a standing frame each day. Despite these interventions, he had developed severe scoliosis. “He had a small rotation and a 72-degree curve,” Jim says.
About a year and a half ago, Jack had spinal surgery from T1 to L3, which straightened the curve to 11 degrees. After the surgery, Jack was put in a standard wheelchair seat with a flat back and lateral supports. The straight wheelchair back wasn’t providing the support necessary to maintain the spinal correction, and the supports under his arms were restricting his movements.
Jack’s father decided it was time to try a custom‑contoured back. Like the OBSS Ortho-Shape custom contoured seating system, the OBSS Ortho-Shape back is a clinically based solution developed for individuals with high positioning needs. The lightweight back support incorporates body alignment, pressure distribution, and directional forces for comfortable postural control.
“One of the things we noticed right away with the new back is that he’s using his arms a lot more,” Jim says. In addition to the OBSS Ortho-Shape wheelchair back support, Ottobock also fabricated an OBSS Tru-Shape custom-contoured wheelchair seat cushion for Jack. “Before we switched over to the custom-contoured wheelchair seat cushion, Jack was developing a pressure ulcer on his gluteus maximus,” Jim says.
“The seat has made a big improvement on that.”
These improvements to his seating configuration may also help Jack to be more productive and expressive during his school and leisure activities. Jack attends school and travels to and from school in a wheelchair-adapted van. During his time at home, he enjoys watching videos and listening to music. Although he is not able to talk, he has developed some basic communication skills. “He makes a smile for ‘yes’ and says ‘no’ by shaking his head or looking down,” Jim says. Jack is also learning to use head switches to communicate via an iPad.
Soon, Jack will transition to an adult living program, which he will attend five days a week until he is 21 years old. After that, he may be able to join the state’s Employment First program, which provides full- and part-time employment services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.