Everyone’s talking about how important standing is these days. But while many articles focus on people who can easily get up from their office desk or couch, those who are severely limited in their mobility due to a disorder, disease or injury could also be helped greatly by standing for an hour or two as part of their daily therapy. For these individuals, assistive standers, standing frames and standing wheelchairs are available to provide the health benefits of standing to both children and adults.
How helpful can standing be? Let’s take a look.
Bone Density Maintenance
Your bones stay strong through constant weight bearing activity like standing. The more weight they bear, the denser they get to support it. But when you sit or lie down, much of the weight that keeps your bones healthy is taken away. When you can’t stand at all, your body no longer focuses on keeping your bones as strong as they once were, causing your bone density to drop drastically, especially in the legs and back. Without that density, fractures and breaks can develop much easier, and that could lead to a lot for chronic discomfort.
Standers and standing aids give users the support they need to stand and allow their bones to bear their weight a little every day, managing density reduction and even strengthen them over time.
Improving Muscle Strength and Posture
Just as bone density drops with a lack of weight bearing, muscle strength in the trunk and legs degrade with inactivity, causing poor posture, neck and joint soreness, back pain and muscle fatigue. With the support of a stander or standing frame, an individual is allowed to work the muscles in both their core and lower extremities more effectively than they can while sitting. With daily activity, one can reduce and manage the rate of atrophy in those areas and elevate their overall comfort level.
Better Bladder and Bowel Function
Gravity plays a huge role in how the body eliminates waste, but its ability to pull down on last night’s dinner is hampered considerably when you’re seated. Standing allows the lower digestive system to work more efficiently, reducing constipation and improving regularity.
Bladder and kidney function also benefits thanks to gravity’s pull. Standing upright allows the bladder to empty itself more completely, lowering the risk of urinary tract infections. Also, because the entire excretory system works better when vertical, the threat of kidney stones can also be reduced.
Heart & Lung Health
Good circulatory and respiratory health are key to overall health and happiness, but it can be tough to achieve when you are seated at all times. The constant pressure placed on your bottom area can cause swelling and sores, restrict circulation and even contribute to lower lung function depending on how you sit. And because the body is constantly at rest, the heart doesn’t need to pump as hard to get blood and oxygen where it needs it be, which can be a major contributor to heart disease.
Standing allows heart and lungs to get a workout of their very own. The lungs can fill more fully, blood can flow more freely and the heart has to pump a little harder against the pull of gravity to push blood up from the trunk and legs. The temporary pressure relief can also reduce the soreness and risk of pressure ulcers that comes with prolonged sitting.
Funding a Stander
Even with all the health benefits of standing, the unfortunate truth is it’s difficult to get the funding needed for a standing device. Medicaid and most insurance companies feel they aren’t necessary for improving someone’s quality of life, which keeps standers from being more prevalent in homes and clinics.
Just because it’s tough to get funding, though, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Both the National Coalition for Assistive & Rehab Technology and assistive stander manufacturer EasyStand have put together helpful guides to help you work with your therapist on getting financial assistance, which you can review at the links below:
There may be other organizations on the state and local level that could provide assistance based on your needs or the needs of your loved one. Take some time to research your options before getting discouraged. And, as always, if you have any questions about one of the many assistive standing devices we offer here at eSpecial Needs, don’t hesitate to contact the product specialists in our Customer Service department.