Tuesday, 4 June 2013

I'm bringing 6C back....

Well I have been gone for a while and yet here I am back tapping away on a battered but faithful laptop.  Now normally I would title most posts as "The Logistics of" and try and make some kind logistical point thinly veiled by the cuteness of my own children.  Long time followers will hopefully remember the joys of baby feeding or the challenges of tooth brushing for 2 year olds.

Today I start with a a play on Justin Timberlake's song title.  It is nigh on impossible to bring sexy back
You can't disguise a nose pick
as a logistician- although I have claimed that logistics is the rock n roll of the aid world..... I can't actually recall what I meant by that when I said it.  I can however bring 6C back, well at least I can recall 6C on a Sri Lankan airlines flight from Colombo to Delhi. If I was to literally bring 6C back it would constitute some kind of theft and probably require customs paperwork that I hadn't done.

So why am I writing about seat? Well it all comes from a change of professional direction.  You will see from the links across the top of this blog that I am the director of The Logistics Project.  Earlier this year I took the decision to work from the inside in trying to promote not only good logistics practice but something I heard described by the Attorney General of Massachusetts as civic capitalism.  I have taken up a post as the Head of Enterprise Operations for Motivation.....oh we have a linked in page too for you social media savvies.  Motivation are all about promoting quality of life for those whose circumstances require them to use a wheelchair.  Their focus is predominantly on the developing world.  Now whilst I am all for using commercial know-how to reach humanitarian and development objectives I did have to have a little read up on wheelchair provision.

So my bedtime reading for a few weeks has been the WHO Guidelines - and I can't suggest they are a John Grisham or Stephen King novel. They will swivel your opinion on providing wheelchairs in less resourced settings.  It turns out that the Monty Python sketch about the dangers of comfy chairs and cushions does have a reality when it comes to the prescribing and fitting of wheelchairs.

HOLD ON AL........ I thought you were brining 6C back.... in fact how does 6C tie into this whole thing.... and should we take a blog seriously that combines WHO guidelines and the work of Monty Python.

Trust me I am a logistician!

I am brining 6C back because it will allow me to explain a big old WHO guideline in one simple picture. Aircraft seats are made to fit the widest number of shapes and sizes possible and consequently only fit a few perfectly.  I was over the moon that Sri Lankan airways upgraded "for the benefit of other passengers" as my 6ft 4in frame was likely to mean some poor individual got pinned to the bulkhead.  I loved the comfort of their business class seat and I have to say you can do a lot worse than fly Sri Lankan.  What I realised though is that even in the lap of luxury I was a little uncomfortable; not seriously, my knees weren't jammed into the seat in front, I did not have to consciously contract to fit the headphone cable in the socket and I could recline to a point where sleep was a possibility.  It started  with a little shift from side to side, the a wriggle to shuffle back, a sneaky lift of the left buttock and then the right to get the blood flowing back to the skin.  My long legs hung over the edge of the seat cantilevering my lower back away from the generous lumber support.  Don't get me wrong these seats were extremely comfortable but to sit still in them for 4 hours was a significant challenge.  I started to get the physical realization of what our work is about, too often in the aid world we do something rather than nothing but in the case of wheelchairs, something rather than nothing can kill you.  Pressure sores and urinary tract infections kill and incorrect seating is a prime cause, an inappropriate cushion can be the terro that Monty Python joked at.  My four hours in 6C showed me that a wheelchair users who may not have the sensation to realize that their butt has gone numb or doesn't have the upper body strength to relocate themself properly needs a seat that is bespoke to them. Fitted neatly, cushioned appropriately and supported efficiently; and that is what we at Motivation do, we design and produce chairs that can be bespoke to each individual and we train people to do that - not in a flash London clinic but in the developing world and less resourced settings.

So when you are looking to mainstream mobility don't forget:

I'm bringing 6C back
That chair has shown me how  to act
We will needd to support your back
Seated correctly with out no slack.
Take em' to the bridge 

 (this does not constitute clinical advice!!!)

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