Tuesdays from the chemo unit, February 28, 2012

Due to technical difficulties, I’m posting my Tuesdays from the chemo unit on Wednesday.

Yesterday was a long day at the hospital because I was getting an infusion of iron (doesn’t that sound delicious). Sitting for so long got me thinking about the chairs in the unit.

The chairs in the unit are giant – they are built for giants. I think the idea is that  chemo patients that have to receive treatment over the space of a few hours want a big comfy chair to relax in. Well they may work for a very tall large person, but I feel dwarfed by them. I feel like a little kid sitting in her grandpa’s naugahyde la-Z-boy, my feet dangling down inches from the floor. Sitting there for four hours is not a comfortable venture.

It seems to me that with a little creativity and imagination a truly adjustable chair could be developed. I did a fair bit of research (not exhaustive I admit) and found some chairs that looked more comfortable than the ones in the unit now. There was not one that I found, however, that could  provide a universal fit.

Here is what my ideal chair would be like. Glen are you listening? (My friend Glen Hougan is an innovative industrial designer – maybe he will design this chair – check out his site at  http://www.wellspandesign.com/).

My perfect chair:

– adjustable height, adjustable width and adjustable seat length.  People come in all shapes and sizes.

– adjustable foot rest.

– ergonomic design for reducing back pain.

– adjustable inflation of back – eliminate the need for extra pillows

– the chair should recline

– a table that swings over the chair for eating or working would be helpful to most of the patients I see trying to balance lunch or a computer on their laps.

– if I was to be really decadent I would include a drink holder and a reading light.

Of course the chair should be eco-friendly and affordable.


There – it’s not too big a list. For those of you who get to use hospital chairs what else would you add to the design?


I imagine there are whole theories about creating designs that can adapt to the individual. Is it that hard? Glen do you want to weigh in on this?




2 thoughts on “Tuesdays from the chemo unit, February 28, 2012

  1. glen says:

    Hey Sam,

    Your universal chair is already designed – its called the bean bag chair.
    Would a large bean bag chair meet your needs? Do you think hospitals would go for it?

    Unfortunately the choice and quality one can get for seating in other environments such offices do not seem to be available in hospitals. I think a lot of it is being driven by classic institutional conservative design aesthetic, onerous and sometimes ridiculous healthcare standards and regulations, bariatric patients requiring large seating, costs factors and lack of understanding of what patients do in a chair.

    The problem with having a lot of adjustments is that people don’t really adjust their seating, more parts to break, and it is harder to clean.

    Here is what the the top seating design companies are designing for the hospitals and healthcare environments.
    Steelcase has their Empath recliner (http://www.nurture.com/empath_recliner_products.aspx?f=39932)

    Herman Miller has their Nala patient chair (http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/patient-seating.html).

    What do you think?


  2. Ultra Sounds says:


    A bean bag chair might work, but where would you attach the little table for eating your lunch?

    All of your listed barriers to the perfect chair are solvable, I’m sure. You have your challenge if you choose to accept it. Patients around the world will thank you. Your name will trip off the lips of people for generations to come as the man that revolutionized the hospital chair.


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