Julie Finds the Right Fit With OBSS

Cradling her daughter’s head, Pam Gowen said she knew right away that a custom molded seat was the right choice for her 10-year-old girl.

“You could tell by Julie’s expressions after the molding that she was more relaxed,” Pam said. “She needed something more contoured to her body.”

Julie’s typical posture in her previous wheelchair seat involved various twists and curves. With Cerebral Palsy, Julie can’t remain upright without significant support. As a result, her torso twisted severely forcing Julie to face over her left shoulder.

“The linear seating just wasn’t working for Julie. Her trunk was falling,” said Amy Vaughn, Occupational Therapy Assistant and Assistive Technology Professional with Evansville Rehab in Evansville, Indiana. “The old seat forced a 90 degree angle, but Julie is not able to fit into that angle.”

In addition to Julie’s poor alignment, she also required various pillows and pads to keep her upright. Despite those efforts, Julie still wasn’t able to maintain an upright posture because her seating system just didn’t provide the support she needs.

OBSS custom seating involves creating a digital file that precisely reflects the patient’s unique shape and contours. Once that digital file is captured, the customized seating system is created. A test seat can be used to verify that the desired fit and support has been achieved. If the test seat doesn’t provide the level of fit and support a patient requires, it can be adjusted and modified until it is honed into the desired position.

“The OBSS system provides a less severe seating angle and total contact so Julie has better balance, is more comfortable and is better able to focus on tasks,” Amy said. That’s because the OBSS system allows Julie to remain forward facing so that she’s in a more natural position and is better able to interact with her environment.

“The fear was that Julie was still growing, so a custom seating system might not fit for very long. But this new system allows for growth,” Amy said.

Although Ottobock has produced custom seating for about 20 years, Julie’s seating system, OBSS Ortho-Shape, was introduced in 2013. It was designed to be lighter than traditional custom seating and accommodate for weight fluctuations or growth.

That kind of flexibility can be key for people like Julie. The 10-year-old girl was adopted from Brazil in 2005. She has Cerebral Palsy and chronic lung disease. Although her weight isn’t expected to fluctuate very much, she may continue growing.

Improving Julie’s seating alignment does more than keep her sitting straight. Better alignment can improve breathing and function of internal organs. It will also help alleviate the flairing of her ribs that was occurring due to her pelvis being pushed up beneath her rib cage. It also helps bring her face forward facing rather than off to the left.