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Product Review: Move Stool provides sensory input to assist with focus

Posted Dec 22 2011 10:05pm
We talked this week about how movement, fidgeting , is scientifically proven to help focus. Longtime ADHD researcher Dr. Mark Rapport, believes movement is a key component in the ability of certain children to focus. A published study concluding in 2009 by the Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, investigated whether children’s activity level is functionally related to working memory demands.

Following this, a second comprehensive two-year study by UCF was undertaken in 2010 in which the Move Stool was selected for use due to its unique ability to encourage movement while sitting. The data is still being analyzed, but according to researchers, when asked, the children involved in the study overwhelmingly preferred the MOVE to the control chair.More information on the published study may be found here: http://www.nea.org/tools/47003.htm .

Back in November,  Adrienne and Kay attended  the  CHADD conference  and met lots of moms and dads on a similar parenting journey, as well as experts and manufacturers in the ADHD field. The President of  Varier USA  was one of those people, attending the conference with his  Move Stool . He tells me the  Move Stool  was a hit at the CHADD conference, so much so that he sold out of the inventory he brought with him and had requests for more. After Adrienne met him, she sent me an email from Orlanda to say he may be contacting us to try out these stools and that she'd really like to try it at their house. I think it's fair to say she was eager to see if this stool would help Jaime attend while eating meals and doing schoolwork.

Sure enough, I was contacted after the conference to review the Move Stool on this site. Varier was kind enough to send a stool to both Adrienne's household and mine. Following are our experiences with this unique product.

{ADRIENNE}
When we first got the Varier Move Stool , Little J. took to it right away -- but probably not in the way the manufacturer intended. The stool is designed to enhance posture, to provide an active sitting experience, to help manage a kid’s fidgets, wiggles, and other need for proprioceptive input. The idea is that kids with ADHD sit on the stool but be able to move as needed, allowing them to attend in a classroom or work environment. It’s a great concept, and Little J definitely got a lot of energy out through his use of the stool…but he didn’t do a whole lot of sitting, at least not at first!

Instead, he saw it as a new toy! First, he sat down on the floor with the Move Stool between his legs, driving it like he was in the number 1 slot in the Indy 500. Next, he dragged it around his house, slamming it into doors, walls, and furniture. Then the spinning, spinning, spinning, started. Spinning! Finally, after a few days I announced (in a very firm voice) that the Stool was for SITTING, and ONLY for SITTING. He sat, but adjusted it to its top height, so when he managed to haul his little butt up to the seat, he struggled to balance, screaming “WHOAH WHOAH!” and finally toppling to the floor.

Whew.

So, week 1 with the Varier Move Stool didn’t go very well. This was predictable, as our previous experiences with devices like this -- exercise balls, textured wiggle seats, etc. -- have often been initially received with a high level of enthusiasm coupled with creativity.

But then week 2 arrived and the novelty wore off. The stool migrated to a spot at our kitchen table, and now it’s J’s favorite place to sit while eating. He likes moving -- rocking, wiggling side-to-side, balancing on his toes -- while eating, and I’m sure that were he in school and he had access to something like this he’d respond positively there, as well.

So, overall my response to the Move Stool is positive, but I do think that some caution is necessary if your child is as impulsive as mine. If I had been having a less-than-patient week (or even day), I would have probably put the stool in a closet after the first 24 hours. Now, several weeks later, it’s a useful and favored sitting spot in our home. And although we were sent the child version, at 5’4” it is also appropriate for someone of my height, and I can see many adults or young adults using it for its ergonomic benefits. Active sitting is something that helps build core strength, and you know I need more of that!

That said, I think the Move Stool’s price tag ( available through retailers starting at $365) is very high and not something I’d have ever considered even trying if I hadn’t been given a sample for review. In order to truly recommend it to my fellow parents I’d need to see the price come down at least 50%, if not more.

{PENNY}
I describe this stool as a unicycle on a concave base rather than a wheel. That description scared Luke when I told him what was on its way to our house to try out. But he took to it instantly, in his own creative way, just as LittleJ did. He often tries balancing maneuvers you'd see the clown attempt with his unicycle at the circus. 

Obviously, we are having a very similar experience with the Move Stool at our house. While Luke didn't think to lay it on it's side like a steering column, he does lie on his belly on the seat and spin until I'm quite certain he's going to achieve lift-off, right into space. {My tendency toward significant motion sickness actually causes me to have to look away from him while he spins like this.} While this isn't the intended use of the stool, I don't mind him using it in this way honestly. It is providing much-needed proprioceptive input and is akin to a spinning activity Luke used to do with much trepidation at Occupational Therapy . The spinning is actually quite calming, and I'll take calm any way we can get it. 

Luke also uses the stool in an appropriate manner, at our dining table to eat meals and to complete homework. It is very portable so the dual uses aren't a big deal. While sitting on the Move Stool properly, he has great posture and better focus on the task at hand. He can't slouch down in the chair with his feet on the table, practically standing on his head, as he often does in a traditional dining chair. I feel like he's attending a bit better to homework as well, getting up less often and completing assignments in a more timely manner. Does it make him want to do his homework? Of course not, but what would?

I have to agree with Adrienne regarding the price as well. I was astounded when I learned the retail value after receiving the chair. In my household that is a significant amount of money. That said, I can also see this chair as an investment. If Luke could have taken it to school and used it at his desk daily throughout elementary school {you wouldn't lug this from class to class in upper grades}, with some additional classroom success, I can see investing in the stool for the long-term benefits. I can also see investing for a childhood of daily homework, if you have the means to make such an investment. 

The Move Stool is a unique product and I haven't seen anything like it before or since. 
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