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A couch that you can customise with a single touch

Four sections enable you to tailor this couch to each patient's requirements.

The front of the instructions describes this as a 'variable-height couch', summing up what is probably its most important feature - the fact that its height will vary at the touch of a button.

How many of us have nearly destroyed our backs trying to manoeuvre elderly overweight ladies with rheumatoid arthritis on and off a fixed couch?

I certainly have.

It was a real delight to have this couch in my consulting room for the past month.

The Verdana couch has four sections. The main central platform is 66cm wide and 48cm long and is fixed. Above it, the upper part is a further 69cm long and can be tilted from -20 deg to +60 deg, using six pre-set positions, by pulling on one of two easily operated levers (one on either side).

Leg sections
At the lower end are two individual left and right sections where the legs rest. Each one can be independently adjusted from -40 deg to +40 deg. Again, this is achieved by simply pulling one of two levers under the section.

The couch has an overall length of 191cm - adequate for all but the very tallest patients; and with the ability to lift up to 25 stone, even the very obese can use it.

The couch can be dropped to as low as 48cm, making it low enough to accommodate the shortest of patients. Once on board, a simple click of the switch raises it up to as much as 94cm above the ground.

This flexibility in height is especially useful when performing procedures such as minor surgery, smears and coil fitting.

Obviously all this flexibility is of no use if the couch is not stable, but during the four weeks that I used one, it was stable at all times, probably due to its 85kg weight.

Despite its weight, the couch was relatively easy to move. A flick of the dual levers at the bottom of the couch with your foot and a set of wheels drops down at the head end, allowing the couch to be wheeled around.

Once in the correct position, a further flick with the foot and the wheels raise, dropping the couch into place. It is now supported by two small feet at the top end and two small wheels at the bottom end.

So it is flexible, stable and easy to move around, but what about its construction? It is made of steel with a durable powder-coated finish.

The frame looks sturdy, and the couch itself has a vinyl upholstery of a similar quality, making it easy to clean.

Extra features
A bed roll holder can be added as an optional extra. My couch had two arm rests, ideal for minor surgery involving the upper limbs, as well as two cot sides and two stirrups, which could be useful.

The couch can also be used to tame the most disruptive and uncooperative of children.

Demonstrate how it works, then tell them that if they are very good they can have a go and, hey presto, they are putty in your hands. Lay them on the bed and as they go up and down you can palpate their abdomens and listen to their chests and hearts.

Unfortunately, it still does not make them open their mouths - I haven't figured that one out yet.

- An independent review by Dr Stollery, a GP in Kibworth, Leicestershire

- Equipment supplied by Williams Medical Supplies

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