Using a Tilt Table to Stand at Home

What is a tilt table?

A tilt table is a special plinth, or padded table, which tilts and can bring you into an almost fully upright position. To stand using a tilt table you:

  1. Transfer onto the tilt table using a hoist or otherwise and lie down on your back. Your therapist or carer will then use two or three sturdy straps (depending on your needs) to secure you to the tilt table.
  2. Your therapist or carer will operate an electric motor or manual pump to bring the tilt table into an almost vertical position (or anywhere in between). You will typically start at a low angle to allow your body to adjust slowly to being in a more upright standing position.
  3. Once in a standing position, you can engage in exercises based on your personal goals. For some, just standing will be the goal of the exercise. For others, you may use the tilt table to work on trunk control, improve your leg strength, or stretch the muscles in your legs.

Due to the sturdy straps, a tilt table can be used even if you have no active movement in your legs or trunk. This makes the tilt table a good option if you have very weak leg or trunk muscles.

Who is it for?

A tilt table may be helpful for anyone who cannot stand or walk independently because of a neurological condition such as a spinal cord injury, stroke or MS.

A tilt table is one option to use as part of a home-based standing program… The benefits of a regular standing program can include:

  • Improved bone mineral density. There is some evidence that including regular standing practice can protect bone density opposing the effects of immobility.
  • Reduced spasticity. Upright standing with weight through your feet can help reduce spasticity in affected muscles. This can potentially lead to periods of more comfort and joint range afterwards.
  • Improved range of motion in lower limb joints. By moving into an upright position with weight through your feet, this, in turn, stretches the calf mobilises the ankle joints and hip joints. This extended posture is the opposite of the position of sustained sitting.
  • Improved bowel function. Many people report an improvement in bowel function when adding standing practice into their home program.
  • It feels good. The main benefit they report is that it feels great to spend some time standing for so many people! This on its own is a strong enough goal to pursue a standing program at home.

Tilt tables are most often used in acute, hospital-based care and rehabilitation but are less commonly used in the home. Reasons for this include cost, space, the practicality of use and having adequate care support. However, a tilt table can be an essential part of your daily routine.

More recently, on the market, we can find standing wheelchairs. This allows the user to bring themselves up into a modified standing position whilst staying in their seated wheelchair device. This can be particularly useful for those who have limited support from others to assist with transferring onto a tilt table, limited space or for those who have pain, which can be alleviated with a period of standing. Some people also have a goal of standing outside of the home and rehab environment during leisure activities or social activities.

Another alternative is the family of devices called standing frames. These pieces of equipment depend on a person being able to manoeuvre into or onto the device and utilise either manual or electronic means of being brought up into a standing position.

There are many different ways to achieve standing. If you and your therapist feel that you would benefit from having your device at home, your therapist can arrange a few different trials to see which model works best for you.

Can NDIS fund a tilt table?

If you are eligible, a tilt table, standing frame or standing wheelchair may be funded by the NDIS. Your Physiotherapist will be able to discuss this with you further.

If you would like more information, please speak with your Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist or call the clinic on (02) 9906 7777.