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Body Shape & Weight Distribution

Functional mobility levels provide a good basis for evaluating a patient’s care needs.
For optimum care, all variables must be taken into consideration, inclusive of the
persons body shape and weight distribution

Bariatric patients’ body shape and weight distribution is often described as:

Pear-shaped – weight distributed unevenly with heavier lower body
Apple-shaped – weight distributed around the centre or torso of the body, or
Proportional – weight distributed comparable to patients of average weight

Each body shape has unique care challenges associated with it. Different body shapes mean, for instance, that hip


width can vary considerably between bariatric patients of the same weight. In selecting equipment, although the safe working load might be adequate, the patient’s hips may be too wide for the equipment. This should be considered in choosing equipment such as beds, wheelchairs, commodes and shower chairs.

Recognition of body shape differences helps in understanding related problems, such as ambulation difficulties. It is also essential for providing optimum solutions, for instance in the selection of slings for mobile lifters or ceiling lifts.


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