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News archive - November 2013

Guide to treatment couch models

Guide to treatment couch models

The treatment couch is a fundamental piece of equipment for hands-on practitioners, whether they are providing clinical treatments, carrying out examinations, or performing physiotherapy, massage, sports therapy or similar procedures.

As such, they play an important role in ensuring the safety and comfort of patients during sometimes lengthy examinations, as well as providing stability for the clinician or therapist.

But there is increasing evidence that decisions on what sort of couch to use are being made on price and not on the benefits to patients or physicians.

Niall Dyer, managing director of furniture manufacturer, Plinth 2000, told hdm: “Sadly cost features fairly high on the list of considerations when specifying treatment couches, which is unfortunate because we’ve seen many instances of customers purchasing goods that are unsuitable at best and dangerous at worst, along with disappointingly short lifespans.

“As an example, we recently completed a quote where the marking criteria allocated 20% on price alone, with specification the next biggest weighting at 12%.

“We would advise trusts not to buy on price alone, as they will inevitably come unstuck. Instead, measure the price against the quality of the product and the guarantee on offer to decide on overall value or return on investment.

“An easy way to do this is to divide the price by the length of guarantee, giving you a worst case annualised cost. Also, it is best to ensure that the product is either UK made or at least UK assembled, so that in the future you will have access to spares and service when guarantees expire. “We also suggest specifiers get a reference from someone who has used a product made by that manufacturer, not necessarily the retailer, to make sure both the product and the service are up to scratch.”

Over the past decade the design of treatment couches has evolved quite significantly, driven by an improvement in the quality of the components used and by the changes to patient demographics, for example the rise in demand for bariatric products to safely support overweight and obese patients.

Dyer said: “Morbid obesity has resulted in wider couches, increased weight handling capacity and a greater number of motorised functions to move limbs and reduce patient handling risks. Improved CAD software has also allowed cleaner, tidier and better-designed solutions, which help in areas like infection control, and there are easier interfaces as well as more aesthetically-pleasing products.”

New technologies are expected to drive even more changes in the future, with infection control continuing to be a key driver in research and development.

1. The two-section couch

A basic essential for any physician’s office, outpatient department or therapy clinic, the two-section couch combines strength, functionality and value for money with a stable platform for manipulation, examination and minor procedures. The built-in adjustable backrest allows patients to be treated in a comfortable reclined or prone position, while integral electric or hydraulic height adjustment enables a perfect working position for the practitioner.

2. The three-section couch

Complete with adjustable back and footrest sections, this option enables the patient to face in either direction and facilitates comfortable sitting, reclining or lying flat, with an ergonomic breathing aperture for safety when face down. These features provide an ideal platform for general treatment and therapy techniques through to heavy manipulation, allowing optimum access and positioning at a perfect working height. Some models on the market also offer further flexibility in the form of motorised seat tilting.

3. The four-section couch

Also known as a ‘traction table’, the four-section option incorporates a friction-free rolling platform that makes it ideal for lumbar and cervical traction in either a seated or prone position. Available with electronic traction unit, harnesses, mast and spreader bar, these couched provide efficient and comfortable traction therapy and the sliding seat section can be locked in place, so that the couch also functions like a normal three-section plinth.

4. 5-section couch

Similar to the three-section models, but with adjustable armrests alongside the backrest, this offers additional comfort for patients when lying flat by enabling the arms to adopt a more-natural position and removing tension from the shoulders. These also routinely feature a breathing hole so are also ideal for therapies, lumbar flexion and heavy manipulation. In addition, an adjustable foot section, backrest, working height positions and in many cases drainage facilities, make it a hygienic option.

5. Drop-end couch

Suitable for smaller treatment areas and offices, these three-section couches have a foot section that drops down to 90°, enabling its use as a comfortable chair, as well as a regular examination and treatment couch. A back section and footrest adjustment allow flexible patient positioning, with electric and hydraulic variation of working height; while optional arms or stirrups enable its use for minor and gynaecological procedures.

6. Fixed-height couch

As its name suggests, this couch is at a fixed height and is usually a two-section model that is perfect for GP surgeries and physicians’ offices, with a sturdy frame, washable upholstery and manual backrest mechanism for examination and treatment. Around half the price of a fully-adjustable two-section option, many models come with built-in drawers and storage space, making it highly affordable.

7. Portable treatment couch

A starter couch for many new clinics and practices, this is often the most useful for domiciliary visits and is capable of handling standard working weights, folding easily into its own carry case for ease of transportation and storage.

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