Life with MS

Standing Aids - An Overview

By MSF Staff and reviewed by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Medical Advisory Board

Standing is something most of us take for granted until we are unable to stand because of pain, illness, or physical impairment. No matter where you are in terms of functional capacity, intermittent periods of standing will help you to feel and look better. Standing improves psychological well-being and muscle tone. It aids in digestion, bladder and bowel function. It promotes blood circulation and helps to heal or prevent bedsores. Standing also improves renal function and lowers the risk of osteoporosis. So take a stand for your health with a little help from a standing aid.

Selecting a standing aid

Before choosing a standing aid, you will be evaluated by your doctor and a physical or occupational therapist. They will assess your situation, including your capabilities, how much support you will need, and whether a mobile or stationary standing aid would be most beneficial.

Consider the following questions with your doctor or therapist: Will your standing aid be for home, school, office, or various settings? Will you use it inside, outside, or both? Will you need to transport it? Will you have assistance? Answers to these and other questions will help you decide on the most appropriate standing aid.

Types of standing aids

According to Abledata, a comprehensive resource for information on assistive technology sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the U.S. Department of Education, there are three basic types of standing aids: prone, supine, and vertical. But there are basic components found in all three types of standing aids. These include:

  • Growth rods for the back and torso to accommodate changes in height
  • Back tilt adjustment for degree of incline
  • Feet stabilizers for proper foot placement and hip rotation
  • Footplates to promote additional stability and proper flexing and extending of the ankles
  • Adjustable knee blocks to improve posture by controlling bending of the knees
  • Adjustable chest pads allow for weight bearing on the lower limbs by providing varying degrees of chest support.
  • Adjustable torso support and torso tilt knobs adjust the degree of support and incline of your mid-section.
  • Adjustable head and neck supports align the head and neck properly and also accommodate for changes in growth.

Prone standers support the front, side, and back of your body at varying angles to keep you upright. There are freestanding units and also those designed to lean against a table, counter or stable piece of furniture.

Supine standers also support the front, side and back of your body. They often have an adjustable tray to support arms and provide an area for work or hobbies. Supine standers are similar to tilt tables and help those who cannot stand upright to achieve a passive standing position.

Vertical standers are for those with reasonably good balance and truck control. These offer less support than a prone or supine stander, with stabilization at the knees, hips, and lower torso.

Some manufacturers give medical equipment dealers or therapists demonstration models of their products. See if you can borrow these models on a temporary basis or try them out at your therapist's office.

What about cost?

Standing aids range in price from affordable to expensive, but don't let cost stand in your way. Once you've been evaluated, you will receive a prescription for the standing aid best suited to your needs.

Whether you are approaching an insurance company, government agency, or community organization for funding assistance, you will be required to provide some basic information about your disability, family income and expenditures, health insurance information, employment history, and names and ages of your dependents.

For complete information on funding, visit Abledata for the Informed Consumer's Guide to Funding Assistive Technology. Don't be daunted by the system. Educate yourself and take a stand!

The ABLEDATA database provides information about and descriptions of more than 25,000 assistive products for people with sensory, physical, or cognitive disabilities. ABLEDATA also provides information about specific devices and manufacturers. Call 800-227-0216 or (TTY) 301-608-8912, or visit

(Last reviewed 7/2009)