The Best Chair and Bed for People With Involuntary Movement
If you suffer from a condition causing involuntary movement or care for someone who does, you probably know how difficult it is to stay safe, secure and comfortable. It’s been more than five years since our friends at Lifetec introduced us to the daily problems people encounter living with Huntington’s disease.
As specialists in healthcare furniture, we strive to provide practical solutions to increase the safety, comfort and independence of people with healthcare needs. In 2013, we found ourselves in the unique position to create the world’s first Huntington’s bed and Huntington’s chair, helping thousands of sufferers get a good night’s sleep.
Here we talk about how our Huntington’s furniture was inspired and developed, and the impact we’ve seen the bed and chair have on families around the world.
Understanding the physical impact of Huntington’s disease
Huntington’s disease affects the brain, causing an onset and progression of symptoms that varies between individuals.
A common physical symptom is chorea, which refers to the uncontrollable jerking movements that begin as twitches early in the progression of the disease. In time, walking may become difficult, as can swallowing and speaking.
People affected by Huntington’s are at high risk of injury from falls. They may also be bruised, cut or injured if chorea causes their body to hit hard or sharp objects with force. Choking is another risk to sufferers if food becomes difficult to swallow.
Witnessing the challenges of daily life
In developing healthcare furniture, Novacorr’s approach has always been to immerse in the lives and problems of people suffering from disability or barriers to mobility. When our founder Keith was invited to meet a Huntington’s sufferer, he was humbled to see the challenges being faced.
Keith quickly understood that everyday tasks were fraught with the very real risks of fall, injury, choking and entrapment near furniture. The discomfort of cuts and bruises were considered minor in comparison and had become an accepted part of daily life.
Keith learned that it was difficult to get comfortable in the traditional furniture options available. And for many people, this physical discomfort increased their chorea and risk of injury.
These challenges obviously impact a person with Huntington’s. But they also affect the carer, who must remain on constant alert for danger. Worry, stress and sleepless nights are difficult to avoid. Medical specialists, like occupational therapists and nurses, also found traditional furniture limited their ability to care for their patients.
Designing a safer solution
This insight left Keith determined to design a solution that would be safer and more comfortable for people living with Huntington’s disease. At the same time, he saw that well-designed furniture could make it easier and safer for specialists to provide therapy and care.
The Novacorr team set out to design and manufacture a bed and an armchair that would improve safety and quality of life. During the initial design phase, our Australian team spoke with potential clients and occupational therapists, gaining a thorough understanding of the critical and desirable features of the furniture.
It was important that the furniture meet occupational health and safety requirements for carers and therapists. Minimising the need to lift and bend was also crucial, as was protection from the involuntary movement of the patient.
Once the Novacorr team was satisfied with their designs, prototypes of the bed and chair were manufactured. These prototypes were subjected to extensive weight testing, sheer testing and endurance testing. At the end of this rigorous research and development stage, the Novacorr team was satisfied the bed and armchair were ready for use in the home.
Changing the lives of people with involuntary movement
As our Huntington’s beds and armchairs were adopted into homes around Australia, the feedback from our clients was overwhelming. In many cases, we visited our clients to help set up the furniture and witness firsthand the impact it made.
Most people visibly relaxed as soon as they used their new furniture. They felt secure and comfortable, and their chorea calmed within minutes. With the armchair easy to maneuver, people could leave the confines of a single room, even enjoy the fresh air outdoors.
It quickly became obvious that our furniture could help anyone suffering a condition that causes involuntary movement. This includes people with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, Rett syndrome, epilepsy, seizures and acquired brain injury.
Carers and specialists were also delighted with our Huntington’s furniture, noting the features that made their tasks safer and simpler, like:
- High-quality vinyl for easy cleaning
- Thickly padded surfaces to minimise injury from knocks
- Anti-entrapment design
- Wheels and handles for easy maneuverability.
Our clients have also valued the unique safety features incorporated in the design of the Huntington’s bed, which can be life-saving in an emergency.
Supporting people affected by Huntington’s disease
Interest in the Huntington’s bed and armchair continues to grow, with tailored orders now being shipped internationally as well as throughout Australia. Clients can specify the size and colour of their furniture to suit their individual needs.
Our commitment to supporting people and carers coping with Huntington’s disease remains strong. We’re proud to be a financial supporter of Huntington’s Victoria and enjoy attending their annual charity ball.
We’re also fully endorsed by Huntington’s Queensland and Huntington’s Victoria. Meeting members of this community inspires us in our work to help people with a disability become safer, healthier, more comfortable and happier.