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Lift chairs, which are also known as rise or recliner chairs, are chairs that feature a powered lifting mechanism that pushes the entire chair up from its base, and so assists the user to move more easily to a standing position. Lift chairs can be useful to the elderly, infirm, or disabled. They can aid comfort and mobility and also promote independence. Most lift chairs will work with weights up to 450 pounds (204 kg) although some can handle up to 700 pounds (318 kg). The original idea for the lift chair came from Fiona McMahon from Melbourne, Australia. Fiona was inspired one night while heavily pregnant and unable to stand in April 1989.
There are several basic varieties:
- Two position: has a lift position and a slight recline position: as the user reclines in a two position lift chair, their back and thighs will stay at about 90 degrees; they do not recline for sleeping.
- Three position: will recline to about 135 degrees, which allows most people to sleep.
- Infinite position: allows the chair to go fully flat and the back and the feet to move independently. This type can sometimes allow the Trendelenburg position whereby the feet are higher than the heart.
- Zero gravity position: similar to the infinite position models, they utilize two motors with the added ability to place the person seated into a 'zero gravity position' in which the person's legs are above his or her heart. This has the advantage of helping those with back problems, circulation issues, and or reduced lung capacity.
There are also lifting cushions available on the market as an alternative to the more expensive lift chair or in addition to it. These can adapt to any stable seating surface but the operator must be aware of the potential hazards and may be unstable if not positioned correctly or not used on an appropriate seat.
Lift chairs can pose a hazard, principally one of entrapment. Official standards have been introduced in an attempt to minimise this possibility, an example being British Standard BS8474 issued in 2006.
- "Calling all Manufacturers of Rise / Recliner Chairs". Furniture Industry Research Association. Retrieved 25 January 2011.