IF YOU'VE NEVER ad back trouble, you probably haven't heard of Obus Forme. Obus is an acronym for orthopedic brace upright support--a lightweight portable brace that fits into a chair, auto seat or bed. Its patented shape provides rigid yet comfortable support to hold the back muscles and spine at rest, which regular chairs do not do; even chairs contoured to fit the spine permit sideways slippage. The brace was invented by industrial designer Frank Roberts, who had wearied of the cumbersome plaster body cast prescribed by his doctor.
Since its introduction in 1980, more than 1 million Obus Formes have been sold to those suffering from herniated discs, osteoarthritis and swayback due to bad posture, pregnancy or overweight, as well as to wheelchair users. Indeed, many insurance plans recognize Obus Forme's therapeutic effectiveness.
Still, it seemed a chore to schlep the Obus Forme from chair to chair. So it was only a matter of time before some bright manufacturer united his seat and frame with the Obus Forme back. That producer, Global Upholstery, is a major supplier of ergonomic office chairs. With their movable backrests and five-branch swivel bases, ergonomic chairs resemble steno chairs but are more expensive and have a broader range of adjustments. These include a gently rounded "waterfall" edge at the front of the seat to promote blood circulation in the thighs, a gas spring cylinder to raise seat height with the flick of a switch, and tilt-angle and spring-tension adjustments.