The bedside chair: can it offer therapeutic benefits?

Bedrest has many detrimental effects for our critically ill or immobile patients, including muscle weakness, cardiac atrophy, atelectasis, and increased risk of a pressure injury. The literature supports the benefits of an early mobility program.

Seating Matters

Sitting out of bed, one component of an early mobility program, provides physiological benefits. Fitzgerald, et al, found a significant increase in tidal volume and partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2), along with a decrease in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PaCO2), when sitting out of bed in comparison to sitting in bed.1

Assessing the patient’s seated posture is essential to ensure safety, comfort, and functionality. The pressure redistribution properties of the chair are equally as important as the therapeutic bed surface for pressure injury prevention, as well as comfort. The chair must provide support so the patient can maintain a neutral spinal alignment and evenly distribute their weight through each ischial tuberosity, the buttock and thighs. For instance, if the depth of the seat is too long or the footplate is too low, it will cause the patient to slouch or slide in the chair. A slouched seated posture can decrease pulmonary function and the ability to swallow, while increasing the risk of a sacral pressure injury.

Pressure injury management for the seated patient incorporates a good pressure redistribution surface that maximizes the patient’s surface area contact, provides postural support, and allows effective repositioning via a tilt in space feature.2 In essence, the bedside chair needs to be adjustable for each patient in order to obtain therapeutic benefits. The “one size fits all” bedside chair may not provide your patient and facility with the best clinical outcomes.

Learn more about Arjo’s new Seating Matters portfolio of therapeutic seating solutions offering adaptability and effortless adjustability to meet your patient’s postural needs.


  1. Fitzgerald, A., Breen, D. Difference in physiological parameters between sitting out of bed into a chair or sitting up on an electric bed in the adult ICU. Crit Care 18, P308 (2014).
  2. Moore Z, van Etter M. Repositioning and pressure ulcer prevention in the seated individual. Wounds UK. 2011; 7(3): 34-40.