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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 6 (2015), Issue 2, Pages 179-192
Research Article

Backrest Shape Affects Head–Neck Alignment and Seated Pressure

Atsuki Ukita,1,2 Shigeo Nishimura,3 Hirotoshi Kishigami,4 and Tatsuo Hatta4

1Graduate School of Health Sciences, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
2Department of Occupational Therapy, Hokuto Hospital, Obihiro, Japan
3Division of Rehabilitation Engineering, Counseling Office, Hokkaido Government, Sapporo, Japan
4Faculty of Health Sciences, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

Received 1 January 2015; Accepted 1 March 2015

Copyright © 2015 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Unstable back support against gravity results in a forward head posture and contributes to buttocks pressure ulcers. However, the association between these health problems and a wheelchair backrest is unclear. Our newly developed wheelchair (N-WC) supports the back of the pelvis and thorax from obliquely underneath. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of different backrest shapes on head–neck alignment and seated pressure. Data from 28 healthy subjects were analyzed. Outcome measures were head–neck alignment angles, support angles of the backrest, and pressure distributions on the supporting surfaces. Compared with a typical wheelchair that has a flat backrest, the seat pressure decreased and the center of pressure was located in the middle of both the seat and backrest in the N-WC. Moreover, the head–neck alignment when seated in the N-WC was upright. These results highlight the importance of the shape of the wheelchair backrest.