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Inspired by a need within his own family, Burt Shulman set out to find a way to save the aching backs of caregivers. The result is an innovation he calls the "Bottoms-Up SwingChair." Under the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, our review will begin with a collection of videos from the company's web site.

Shulman told us that the motivation that inspired his invention is the number of lifts a caregiver has to make in order to help a bed-bound or chair-bound person to and from the toilet. "To toilet a person, who can often be almost dead weight, there is the first lift from a lounge chair to a wheelchair, from the wheelchair to the toilet, the lift back to the wheelchair, from the wheelchair to a bed for cleanup and returning clothing, from the bed back to the wheelchair, and the final lift into the original chair." He asserted what every caregiver knows, each lift is an opportunity for injury, to patient or caregiver or both.

The Bottoms-Up SwingChair has the potential to limit toileting lifts to two, or eliminate them entirely. The patient sits comfortably in the chair while the caregiver slowly rotates both chair and patient to the side — not fully lateral but about 80 degrees — aided by an airlift spring. With the patient's head resting on a pillow, the caregiver replaces the chair's removable cushioned seat with a toilet-type seat, removes the patient's lower garments and returns chair and patient to a sitting position. Adaptive Velcro undergarments and clothing facilitate this step.

After toileting is finished, the caregiver rotates the chair again, removes the toilet seat, cleans the patient, replaces the undergarments, and reattaches the original cushioned seat. Again assisted by the airlift spring, the caregiver rotates the chair again, returning the patient to an upright position. Though this process includes several steps, Shulman assures us a caregiver can ready a patient for toileting in less than a minute, far quicker than current practice described above.

Although the Bottoms-Up SwingChair has been designed to recline 15 degrees and has an alternating pressure, cushioned seat, it may not be comfortable enough for the patient to remain in it for most of the day. However, even if the patient needs to be moved to the SwingChair for toileting, the caregiver needs to lift and move the patient two times instead of as many as ten.

The Bottoms-Up SwingChair, when ready for manufacture, will also feature:

  • adjustable seat height, from 17" to 22"
  • adjustable recline up to 15 degrees
  • adjustable/removable arm rest
  • attachable serving tray
  • left and right swing configurations
  • alternating pressure sitting cushion

The chair is currently in a prototype phase. The inventor is actively pursuing partners to help develop it into a market-ready product. Burt Shulman's contact information is and 845-298-4229. Other Shulman products include attachable lights for walkers and canes, and a patented attachment to oven shelves to prevent burns when removing hot items.

©2019 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only.