Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, February/March 2003

Tools for Physicians: bodyCushion™

By Dr. Alan Kadish

As all physicians have noted, even the best padded examination/treatment tables lack the necessary contours for long periods of use. As the human body has no flat shaped areas, this results in an ergonomic problem for practitioners.

During the last several months I have been employing the bodyCushion™ by Body Support Systems, a 16 year-old firm from Ashland, Oregon, which was created by massage therapist, Tom Owens LMT. The initial concept was to help his female patients achieve comfort, while in a prone position. The system consists of a number of contoured, multi-layered foam cushions, covered in vinyl. Prior to their use, I used the typical bolsters in a number of shapes and had a literal potpourri of products. Space and coordination was non-existent. The bodyCushion is, as the name implies, a set of innovative cushions that enable one to convert a flat surface into a truly functional and comfortably ergonomic support structure.

The bodyCushion system has many optional accessories and comes in either individual or packaged sets. I have been using the standard 4-piece bodyCushion 3" set, with the adjuster caddy set and a breastProtector™ as needed, on my treatment table for months now. My patient feedback, especially from the female patients, has been excellent. There is clearly a demand by the patient for the continued use of the system.

Let's explain the "system." There is a unique plastic headpiece that allows for an infinite number of flexion or extension placements, together with the padded cloth-covered Velcro-attached cushion. The chest and pelvic supports, along with the leg cushions, all easily Velcro-adjusted for the patient's height, comprise the basic system. The caddy set is the fine-tuning cushions, allowing for the infinite variations needed for differing body types. As the name implies, a breastProtector in two sizes, is also available. Other helpful products, including sheets, covers, an oil holster and apron, along with a video series are also offered.

Although portability may not be a consideration, I recently had the need to treat a family member at home. The system includes a zippered transport bag, which proved useful and functional. Unlike any of my other postural aids this system can be used while the patient is seated. It's uncanny how relaxed one can become in any position given adequate support, even when in pain. A study of the EMG changes while using the system was done in the Journal of Myofascial Therapy Vol. 1 No. 3, October 1994. Significant decreases of sEMG levels were present among the participants using the bodyCushion.

I had the opportunity to be introduced to the system by the firm's general manager and cinematographer, Steve Brown, a body worker with an enthusiastic desire to make people comfortable. After getting into the habit of situating the client in the suggested positions with the cushions, I consistently received positive feedback. To utilize the cushions it takes no more than a few seconds and reinforces your patient's perception of your caring for their comfort.

My treatment table is a cloth upholstered stationary table. I utilize physical therapy modalities as well as prolotherapy and spinal manipulations. Many of the therapies require an extended period of time to perform and have literally been transformed into a comfortable situation for the patient. Of specific note is my use of it for patients who require a supine position when IV therapy is administered. Most fall asleep easily and awake without the prior non-cushioned discomfort.

If I sound like a sales person, it's truly because of my conviction that the cushions live up to their claims. No wear or compaction of products have taken place over a period of 9 months. This is very different than my prior experiences with numerous bolsters, which necessitated replacement after 3+ months of continued use and were not easily cleaned. This resulted in a less than professional presentation. I continue to learn the nuances of the system's use and find the patient's appreciation for the added comfort well worth the time investment.

If you're seeing a fair number of pregnant or post surgical breast procedure patients, invest in the breastProtector. The response is consistently positive and appreciative. I find that the basic set of 4 piece bodyCushion™ is ideal for my general use with the caddy bag of adjusters and extenders. This combination, along with the breastProtector, is an ideal assembly of tools that will work for the majority of your clients. The optional washable covers, especially for the headpiece, are also a worthwhile investment,

I would recommend the systems to any practitioner who requires their patients remain stationary for any period of time. The adjustability will take some training. An excellent set of professionally produced training tapes is available. With the purchase of the minimal set of cushions, a Basic instructional video is included.

Additional videos are well worth the price, especially the "New Approaches to Muscle Therapy" set along with "Positioning for Soft Tissue Work." If you see pregnant women in the practice, "Positioning for Pregnancy" is a must. Tapes for both Chiropractic and Physical Therapy clinicians are also available. All of the productions were professional, succinct and useful.


Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, February/March 2003 (p166)