How's My Butt Look?

Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on November 21, 2022 # Lifestyle

Even back when we were dating, Geoff would joke about how I only fell for him because of how good his butt looked in jeans. Never failed to get a giggle out of me. He can barely keep jeans on his butt these days, even with the use of his belt. Furthermore, after all these years, he has perfected the “pull up” in his car when he loses his pants altogether. But, without jinxing ourselves, one of the reasons we have been so lucky in the “rear end and pressure sore department of spinal cord injuries” is due to the high-quality seating cushions for his wheelchair, monoski, and handcycle.

Geoff has a seating guy named Joe who works for Aspen Seating Clinic and Ride Designs out in Colorado. It’s kind of funny because he also works closely with Joe from Nordica for his skiing sponsorships. Our kids even know to clarify, “Are we talking about Seating Joe or Nordica Joe?” Who needs last names when one’s careers are so cool to an 11 and 12-year-old? While seating Joe may not view his job as glamorous as our kids imagine it to be, what he does as an orthotist helps Geoff do all he does, whether wheeling, skiing, or biking. Plus, in their minds, anyone who lives and works in Colorado has status.

Back in September, Geoff participated in a seating conference with “Seating Joe,'' also known as the co-founder and president of Ride Designs Joe Bieganek. I had to look up the definition of orthotist and learned that they are healthcare professionals who make braces, splints, and/or seats for people who need more support due to injury or disease. When I reached out to Joe that I wanted to write an article about cushion technology, he shared, “Ride custom seating systems provide postural stability and skin safety. Orthotics and prosthetic science used in this technology consider safety loads and tolerant areas of the body to then completely remove pressure over bony areas that are prone to skin breakdown. The materials used for this technology are firmer, modifiable, and provide air space and vent channels to keep skin drier.”

Geoff explains shape capture, which includes sitting in blue crushed foam. They digitally scan the imprint of his butt in this foam, and the image is then taken to a foam-cutting CNC machine. Once the foam seat is cut, Geoff sits in it to make sure there are no hot spots or pressure areas of concern that could cause an issue. Geoff calls this technical process “the butt inspection” after he is sitting for 20 minutes. He uses a mirror, but depending on one’s level of injury, one might need help with this part of the “ass-thotic” process. He then showed me some lovely photos of his butt that highlighted some areas of redness, in which they scraped more foam from the cushion to offload more pressure. He would prefer I not show those photos of his butt. However, I do have one of him in the process of having a new monoski bucket formed, which is appropriate for a wider audience. The right-fitting bucket or wheelchair cushion or handcycle cushion is like Geoff’s best-fitting shoes – essential to his livelihood both as a professional athlete as well as long-term care for his skin as a human, the only suit he will ever have. And for anyone who has had to spend months face down allowing the skin to heal around a pressure sore, this kind of technology is as important as the wheelchair itself for life’s freedom and mobility.

Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 12 and 11 respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.