Headrests for chairs

Headrests for chairs

Headrests are generally a very important part of the fit and comfort of the chair. They cannot be seen in isolation to the rest of the chair.

The overall position of the head and neck and the associated comfort in a chair will be determined by the type of chair and backrest.

In high chairs, headrests are often an integral part of the chair and may have been moulded. So it is important that the chair has the proportional back height to your trunk height so that the head and neck support is at the correct height. For people with a shorter or longer trunk height it is worth discussing about alternative chairs that are designed for petite or taller people.

Headrest wings

(See picture below). Headrest wings do not have any real functional purpose so it is down to personal preference whether you choose a chair with wings. They may help to support your head if you have a tendency to nap in your chair but the overall back height is generally lower than more supportive seating such as riser recliners or support and positioning chairs. Even if the wings can provide some support for your neck, the position can still put a great strain on the muscles and ligaments in your neck and this can lead to pain and stiffness. If you want to sleep it is better to have a short rest in bed.

In addition, wings can block your sideways visibility so you may have to lean forwards to see round them. However, they may offer some protection from draughts. For people with hearing loss, the wings could also impede ability to hear parts of a conversation. As an alternative, it may be worthwhile considering a different type of chair which may provide a higher backrest, maybe but and this will also depend on the type of activities you want to carry out in the chair.

Adjustable headrests can be positioned where the support is most needed. They should be easy to adjust and be secure when fixed. Some wrap around the back of the chair and the height can be adjusted.

Others are on weighted bands which lie over the top of the chair back. Some are on velcro adjusters and are part of a waterfall back.

Many support and positioning chairs provide a range of options and a tilt-in-space facility can also help with positioning of the head, especially if there is poor head control. When considering a chair(particularly of this type) an individual assessment with an Occupational therapist or a Physiotherapist is very important.

If you would like similar advice regarding issues with sitting to standing and questions relating to chairs then you could try the sitting and standing and furniture sections of AskSARA. AskSARA is the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF)'s free online self assessment tool. AskSARA will ask you questions about yourself and your environment (in this instance standing up from a chair, wanting to raise your legs) and then offer relevant advice, product suggestions and supplier details of for example, high seat chairs.

AskSARA's sitting to standing

AskSARA's chair section

It is important to try out a chair before purchase to ensure the chair will provide the comfort you require. The angle and height of the backrest, the overall fit of the chair and seat height will also affect the comfort of the headrest. In some situations the support of the legs and feet will also be an essential factor.

Equipment Demonstration Centre in the UK have a permanent exhibition of products and equipment designed to enable independent living. The centres provide individuals with opportunities to view, and try, products and equipment and obtain information and advice from professional staff about equipment that may assist them.

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
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