Head position and tilt-in-space: A study of headrest preferences in non-disabled adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wheelchair headrests are currently designed so they are not easily moved once they are adjusted to the optimal position. This is the preferred design in most cases because it would be detrimental to the user for the headrest to accidentally move from its optimal position. However, there may be times, such as when headrests are used in conjunction with adjustable position wheeled mobility bases and seating systems, that the user would prefer to change his headrest position. When a person who uses a tilt-in-space or reclining wheelchair changes his orientation, he may prefer to change the position of his head in relation to the rest of his body so he can continue to maintain visual attention with current activities. Evidence of research examining this phenomenon is limited. As a preliminary study, non-disabled adults were seated in a tilt-in-space seating system and positioned in three orientations. To simulate a passive activity requiring visual attention, they were asked to watch a videotape. In each position, the preferred headrest position was determined. Data regarding the preferred position of the headrest was collected and analyzed to determine the relationships between changes in body position and changes in preferred headrest angles. Findings indicate that the sample tested preferred to change their headrest angle in response to changes in orientation. The results of this study indicate that further investigation is warranted to determine if people who ordinarily use such devices would benefit from adjustable angle headrests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalTechnology and Disability
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Head position
  • Seating and positioning
  • Wheelchairs
  • non-disabled adults
  • able-bodied adults
  • tilt-in-space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Rehabilitation


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