Function-based Practice: The Rifton Support Station

April 10, 2012 by Nancy Papa Doran, OT

As an Occupational Therapist I view toileting as a functional life skill, not as an interruption to the day. The product that makes this possible is the Rifton Support Station.

For each of the more than twenty students on my caseload I incorporate a toileting objective on their IEP.  And for those students using the Support Station, I will work with them once a day for their toileting routine.

I never place our students in a horizontal position on a changing table for hygiene care. It is demeaning to the children, especially the older ones, having them lie on a changing table like a baby. So I provide hygiene care for my students by leaning them forward on a padded table. Getting the students to hold on while leaning up against this table was very challenging. That’s why the Support Station is revolutionary.

A therapist helps a young girl in a wheelchair transfer to a disabled changing table for toiletingThe Support Station is adaptable: It adjusts to accommodate different student heights. The trunk board can be angled for different weight bearing abilities. And the swivel is helpful; once a child is leaning against it, it assists in the transfer to a toilet, depending how you have positioned the Support Station in the bathroom.

The shape of the trunk board allows comfortable placement of the student’s arms. There is also the option of handholds allowing the child to assist in the transfer. The support strap is useful in safely securing the child while their lower extremities and clothing adjustments are managed.

I use the Support Station for any student age 10 or older who has limited to almost no weight bearing. Many have cerebral palsy or other diagnoses where they are in a wheelchair and have spasticity or fluctuating muscle tone. With the Support Station, they can get in and out of their wheelchairs easily. I even do it with students that are tube-fed.

With the Support Station we are seeing increased functional participation for students who are large and with limited weight bearing. By practicing toilet transfers with the Support Station our students no longer remain in their wheelchairs all day and they grow stronger. This regular practice carries over into improvements in walking or sitting. So that’s why we look at toileting as an opportunity and not an A young man leans on the Rifton special needs changing table Support Stationinterruption.

Additionally, with the Support Station, we are seeing improved continence. One of my students, Angelica, uses the Support Station as an adaptive toileting aid. It allows her to use the toilet regularly after lunch and “accidents” have been noticeably decreased – a real success story. So I believe that with the right tools, training students to toileting regularity is possible with dedicated time and effort. Consistency is the key.
A young adult, with the help from her therapist uses the Rifton Support Station as toilet transfer equipmentWhen our adolescent students transition into adulthood, perhaps two of the biggest barriers to increased participation in society are difficulty with transfers and toileting. The Support Station addresses both of these, not only as an aid that makes each toileting episode easier, but also as a tool for the possibility of improving sit-to-stand strength and even training toileting continence with consistency and regularity.

I would like to see Support Stations placed in all adult centers to facilitate our students as they graduate beyond the school setting. It’s truly a life-changing product.

The William S Baer School was one of the early adopters of the MOVE Program.

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mary ryabn | May 30, 2012
Please send information for installing support station in school bathroom. Maintenance needs instruction. Thank you.
Elena Noble, MPT | May 31, 2012
Hi Mary, We will have someone get in touch with you, but here is the link to the Support Station’s product guide with installation instructions on p.6
Mark Borys AIA | June 24, 2013
Is it possible to get a CADD file of your Support Station so that i can accurately lay out the unit in relationship to clearances and the toilet? An accurate plan will help the Staff understand and approve the Floor Plan. Thanks
Elena Noble, MPT | June 25, 2012
Hi Mark, I ran your question by our product design manager and he asked me to refer you to our Support Station product manual: Page 5 covers the working dimensions of the item thoroughly. Thank you for the inquiry, Elena
Julie A Evans | August 16, 2015
What are your thoughts on using the Support Station for students under the age of 10?
Elena | August 17, 2015
Hi Julie, Kids under 10 years old use the Support Station as the trunk board is height-adjustable, but the minimum user height is 46 inches, so this would be a better way to determine if the Support Station would work for your patients.
Jana | January 27, 2016
What do you recommend for a quad spastic child who has very tight adductors that he must recruit to make standing possible? How do you get the diaper in and out between the thighs safely without hurting him? Additionally, how do you recommend ensuring everything is in place when you are unable to see what is in front? (so that leakages do not occur) Thank you!
Elena | February 01, 2016
Hi Jana, I forwarded your question to a therapist who has worked with many children with spastic CP using the Support Station and this is what she recommends: "For children who needed to maintain a scissor posture to stand we would put a cut down pool noodle in between their knees. This kept their legs apart enough to change the brief yet, allowed them the tension needed to maintain standing. Sometimes we needed two pool noodles. (can use rolled up towels too)"