Custom Back Supports – Off The Shelf Or Custom?


Date: 12/12/19
Credits: .1 CEU
Presenter: Faith Saftler Savage, PT, ATP
Seating and Positioning, ATP/SMS Prep Content, Intermediate Level



Back supports are a critical component of the seating system and are often poorly fitted. This course discusses the different types of sitters (hands free, hands dependent and prop sitters) and the amount of back support that is needed for each. The properties of the off the shelf and custom back supports are discussed to assist in determining which option will best fit the person’s back support needs. Properties include surface shape, stability (firmness) and mounting method as well as width, height and depth of the support. Improving the fit of the back support will decrease back pain, improve skin integrity and improve overall trunk posture and stability for optimal function.

Learning Outcomes:

The participant will be able to differentiate between hands free, hands dependent and prop sitters.
The participant will be able to list the properties of various off the shelf and custom backs.
The participant will be able to demonstrate the ability to choose an appropriate back support to meet the user’s needs.


Faith has over 35 years of experience as a physical therapist, seating specialist and rehabilitation technology supplier, treating persons of all ages with a variety of disabilities. She has been working as a seating consultant at The Boston Home for 25 years assisting residents with MS and other chronic disabilities in obtaining appropriate manual and power wheelchair systems to improve posture, comfort, function and independence in mobility. She runs an outpatient clinic at The Boston Home and assists people in the community with diagnoses including SCI, MD, CP and MS to obtain appropriate equipment. She is consulting with therapists in Georgia for individuals residing in group homes to improve access to services and appropriate equipment and improve training of caregiver staff. She has published chapters in journals and books including; International Journal of MS Care, Fundamentals in Assistive Technology and Physical Rehabilitation.