How ergonomic furniture can help children with scoliosis
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What is scoliosis?
Does your child have a slight uneven shoulder level, a prominent hip to side, a rib hump due to the deformed ribs, or imbalanced musculature formation? These are the common symptoms that the Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM) has warned parents to pay attention to their children if they seem to be developing an early onset of scoliosis.
Scoliosis among Malaysian Children
Scoliosis among children has never been widely been studied in Malaysia, but with a 2017 study done by the Malaysian Orthopedic Association in school children, has estimated roughly 2-5% of school children are prone to having mild or greater scoliosis, with warning that girls of 11-14 are at higher risk of developing scoliosis. Its because of this, chiropractors such as Dc Andre recommends parents to conduct check up with qualified professionals to spot early signs of scoliosis.
Pic 1: National statistic of scoliosis amongst Malaysian children, graphics from @Scoliospine
What can be done to heal children with scoliosis?
Most forms of mild scoliosis in children does not require surgery due to their still growing bodies, and can be corrected as long as its treated early on. Braces, exercise, and ergonomic factors are generally the three solutions recommended by the KKM. Here at Ergoland, we are partnered with qualified and experienced physiotherapist and chiropractors that can provide your children treatment, but they always refer patients to visit our store to maintain their bodies post-treatment.
Pic 2: Evonne Ng (left) discussing ergonomic matters with Dc Andre (right) in Ergoland Penang branch
Dc Andre would like to reassure parents with children that have scoliosis with these 3 tips:
- Firstly get the correct advice. There are many who claim to be Scoliosis experts out there, but few are. The two important criteria to finding the right person is their qualifications and their experience. The management of scoliosis is a team effort and the person helping you heads that team, so you would automatically want the best person heading your team.
- There is always more than one option. For scoliosis there is the surgical option and the conservative option. My advice is to listen to both sides and then only decide on which route you will follow. You can only make an informed choice if you know all the facts!
- And thirdly, it's never too early to start care. Too often I have seen patients that have opted for the 'wait and see approach' and eventually they are left with only the surgical option. The sooner you can start treatment the better your outcome will be.
The purpose of an ergonomic table and chair study set for children
Ergonomic study places ensure that a healthy posture is maintained throughout the child’s adolescence and building a foundation to maintain their spine growing into adulthood, especially if you consider the fact that a child can spend up to 6 hours a day in a table and chair. Researchers in Brazil have noted that the tables and chairs in school play a role in developing bad postures due to the standard height of tables and chairs being ill suited for children of varying sizes, bending the child’s head and torso to study, increasing the pressure felt upon the spine.
Jonathan Tiong of Balance Chiropractic outlines the goal of getting a ergonomic table and chair set, which is to support the child’s back by providing a flexible back rest and height adjustable table that encourages them to sit straight, to prevent hunching and slouching around the neck and shoulder region, and that the child’s feet is touching the ground. So how does an ergonomic table and chair set provide that?
Children with scoliosis experience pain in the back, shoulder, and neck due to the uneven curvature of the spine, and therefore while getting treatment, the child needs to be taught proper posture of sitting upright, back pressed firmly against the backrest to straighten the spine. Fostering good habits is especially crucial while the children’s bone have yet to ossify and set in place, its why most mild scoliosis cases are treatable without surgery.
Exhibit 1: The differences between an ergonomic study station and a regular dining study station.
Experts such as Dc Andre recommend a simple 90 degree formula, where the feet are 90 degree with their feet touching the floor; their back generally straight with their shoulder and neck not slouching; and their arms placed at a rough 90 degree angle against their work surface as seen in the picture.
This is the same conditions ergonomic experts advise adults, and this is to ensure that the stress on the spine is distributed evenly across the body, as well as utilizing the ergonomic furniture for their intended purposes. This is why ergonomic chairs such as the Speed Ultra Chair comes with a flexible backrest, to allow the chair to firmly support the child’s shape and to encourage good posture. Alternatives to that are cushioned chairs such as the Enlightening chair.
Angle and height adjustable table
Let us examine why the height of the table matters for children with scoliosis. As seen in the picture above (Exhibit 1), a table too tall for the children forces the child to slouch forward to even write on the table, with their feet dangling, forcing the spine to bear all of the weight of the kid’s body. If your children’s table could be adjustable to grow with your child, there will never be a situation where they can’t reach the table top.
As for angle adjustment, you’ll notice a lot of older study tables already using an angled writing surface, much like an architect’s drafting table. Notice in the image above how the wrist alongside the arm is positioned at a natural angle to write, protecting the shoulder and wrist from cramps?
And just like the drafting table, by tilting the table top surface to the children, it means they do not need to lean in as much, ensuring their necks remain at a comfortable upright position, without needing to strain their eyes. You need not to worry about books and stationary running off, ergonomic study tables like the M17 Purely Desk comes with stationary holders and stoppers to prevent that.
Table top solutions for electronics
If the child is beginning to slouch due to electronics such as IPads, computer screens, or laptops, we do recommend ergonomic stands designed to position the electronics at the eye level, to prevent the child from looking downwards. Products such as the robotic arm and the Ipad shelf aren’t just made for the adults ergonomic workstation, but for the 21st century children’s study station as well. Even more so now that schools and classes are being conducted online.
Scoliosis in children is treatable
This article was inspired by concerned parents who come to us, fearful about their children’s conditions and future. We understand that having scoliosis in your children is a scary thought, but it can be treated if detected early, and with persistent treatment and ergonomic furniture.
You can read more about how to properly seat your children in an ergonomic table and chair here, or check out our children’s collection of furniture here. Here at Ergoland, we have experienced staff that can help you and advise you should you have any questions at all in regards to ergonomic products, or we can direct you to our partners here!