A review by Henshaws College

At Henshaws College we are always looking for the next innovative way to improve the access for our students and seek the opportunities that new thinking can bring to our sessions.

We have been using a range of Stabilo cushions that on first glance appear to be a great concept and now one year on, has proved, to be versatile, simple, and most used piece of kit in our department.
Our student population provides a wide range of physical needs from essential wheelchair users to students independently mobile. Like anywhere storage and cost is an important factor and this is why we think it is important that equipment is as helpful to as many clients and treatment as possible.
The Stabilo cushion has proven to have all the qualities we were looking for. We are so pleased with the product I feel it professionally responsible to share our findings so that other physiotherapists may gain benefit too.

We physios know that a good start to a session is a good position. This is particularly key with individuals with limited movement or poor conformity to most surfaces. As physiotherapists we are naturally gifted with our hands and adjust support where necessary instinctively. For example with the Grande mattress we are able to hoist an individual onto it and I recommend it is set to a medium density. This allows the beads to mould around the persons shape while still allowing adjustment for alignment and support. When happy with the position the air can be removed from the cushion completely thus holding the shape you made. This now allows you to perform your treatment, as the cushion holds as though your hand are still there, providing support exactly where and how you require.

Most people ask me if when the cushion is firm, is it uncomfortable? Through personal experience and student feedback it feels comfortable and supportive. Used in the correct way we have found that this level of support can improve relaxation, reduce tone and improve arm or leg function due to improved stability. We have even be able to accommodate sore limbs by providing more space and even help individuals achieve prone while accommodating invasive tubes by creating wells.
The mattress can also be folded into a chair position which we use as a rapid recovery position. This can improve the amount of work a student can do in one session due to the support that can be offered. With one student were able to achieve side lying while accommodating an extensive scoliosis. This allowed them to achieve independent shoulder abduction. Allowing them to participate in an over arm bowling activity with their peers for the first time.

We also have small cushion, which is shaped for a back rest and has been used to support the scoliosis of one of our students. Many chair systems have been tried with this student in the past but they have either been unable to support the student’s shape or have not been tolerated due to their preferences from day to day. This potentially frustrating problem was solved by the Stabilo cushion, the student provides feedback and we can change the shape to meet their every need. If they want a rest from the cushion it can be remove easily by any staff and replaced while maintaining shape with ease. A wheelchair clinic was so impressed with the flexibly and support of the cushion that they were unable to improve the current arrangement despite their extensive range of specialist seating systems.
The arm rest cushion has been providing helpful supports for limbs. This can be used in isolation in lying or in the chair. The IT team is also using this with their students to create bespoke stands for tablet computers, which can be carried in bags and moulded to shape with ease when needed.

My favourite cushion we have and our most frequently used is the roll. We use this to create:

  • Wedges for lying in prone,
  • Bespoke T-rolls for hip abduction and knee flexion,
  • Leg abduction wedge into improve standing stability,
  • V pillow for head and shoulder
  • Roll to facilitate four point kneeling and forearm propping.
  • All this from one originally rolled shaped cushion.

I hope this review has created some ideas into how this range can be applied to your client group. It is rare that a piece of equipment can tick so many boxed for so many clients. This product has become a staple of the departs equipment. We are thrilled with the results and the feedback from our students. I think being a physiotherapist is an absolute honour and it is made all the more satisfying when you find a product like this. Best wishes in all your endeavours fellow physios, keep being creative and love what you do.

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