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Wheelchair cushions: The most comfortable seat for prolonged use

When buying a seat cushion for prolonged use, a user looks for much more than the comfort level. An ideal seat cushion for wheelchairs should prevent pressure sores or skin tears. They should also help in pressure management, positioning and enhanced sitting balance.

There is a variety in wheelchair cushions available in terms of material, construction and physical characteristics. This may make it confusing when you are picking one to match your individual requirements. Thus, its gets imperative to assess individual condition, educate oneself on the types of cushions available and draw a match between these two.

When buying, consider these factors:

  • User condition:

    This will include physical examination, postural assessment, musculoskeletal examination of head and neck, functional examination to know user reflexes, head control, etc., and neurological examination.

  • Where will the wheelchair be used:

    Options may include use at home, in a medical facility or outdoors.

  • How will the wheelchair be used:

    This refers to the kind of activities the user is expected to perform while in the wheelchair.

Once this information is in place, the user must thoroughly research the choices available in the market. The cushions are available in varied materials, construction, sizes, shapes, densities, depths and weight capacity. Its fit vis-a-vis the wheelchair seat size is also important. The most common cushion technologies available are:

  • Foam:

    Foam cushions are most popular, versatile and economically priced. They are available in different densities, shapes and contour options for better weight distribution. Since foam is easy to cut, it can easily be made to fit the user’s shape. However, the downside is that foam wears out faster and does not meet advanced positioning requirements.

  • Gel:

    A combination of blended silicone-based gels sealed in leak-proof pouches are encased in a foam cushion. They take the pressure off the user’s spine and are thus pain relieving. Gel cushions provide optimal pressure relief and advanced seating position. However, they are heavyweight and face the risk of gel leakage.

  • Air or dry floatation:

    These have an outer shell material filled with air. The air cells are interconnected or independent. They redistribute the body weight pressure minimizing shearing and preventing tissue damage. Air or dry floatation cushion type is ideal for proper positioning and improved posture. Though they are waterproof and lightweight, they need to be constantly monitored for air levels and leakage.

Having glanced through the basics of wheelchair cushions, let us now take a look at our top five wheelchair cushions and their features which make them stand out.

  • Curve Wheelchair Cushion with Comfort-Tek Cover

    Curve Wheelchair Cushion with Comfort-Tek Cover

    Curve Wheelchair Cushion with Comfort-Tek Cover is a high-density molded foam cushion which is available at a very reasonable price. The foam increases the surface area thereby releasing point pressure areas. Its stand-apart feature is its reflective piping which makes it visible even from 500 feet. The anti-thrust shelf promotes postural stability and prevents slipping. The thigh separator enables postural alignment. It also has a non-skid flat bottom fabric which has hook and loop attachment. Encased in comfort trek fabric, this cushion is highly elastic, soft and smooth. It is infection resistant and easy to clean.

  • Curve Wheelchair Cushion with Stretch-Air Cover

    Curve Wheelchair Cushion with Stretch-Air Cover is similar in all features to the Curve Wheelchair Cushion with Comfort-Tek Cover. The difference lies in the material used - the stretch air fabric which is a double-layered material with a soft and highly-elastic polyester outer layer and water-resistant polyurethane underneath layer. The multi-directional stretch enables pressure relief by facilitating back support. Designed to be airy and breathable, this cushion helps in heat dissipation.

  • Comfort Company M2 Zero Elevation Wheelchair Cushion with Comfort-Tek Cover

    The Comfort Company M2 Zero Elevation Wheelchair Cushion with Comfort-Tek Cover

    Comfort Company M2 Zero Elevation Wheelchair Cushion with Comfort-Tek Cover is constructed with high density molded foam and Quadra 3D gel pack evenly distributed across the seat in four compartments. The foam is cut out to give relief to the coccyx (lower back) by eliminating pressure on the spine and tailbone. The 3D gel pack reduces shear forces and building up of heat. Its reflective piping makes it safe by making it visible from up to 500 feet away. The tapered leg adductors widen towards the back of the cushion to give greater support to the trochanter. The deep lateral and medial leg contours help in postural alignment. The fabric is infection resistant and easy to clean.

  • EHOB Waffle seat cushion

    This model is not only preventive but curative as well vis-a-vis pressure ulcer. Employing the waffle design technology, it has air pockets to allow air flow and moisture control to prevent ulcers and treat the existing sores. EHOB Waffle seat cushion is ideal for prolonged sitting by bariatric users. It is lightweight and thus easy to transport.

  • Invacare Absolute Essential Cushion

    Invacare Absolute Essential Cushion

    Made of molded dual firmness foam, the Invacare Absolute essential cushion provides increased support and comfort. It is ideal for users who need minimal support and positioning as they can manage their weight shift. It has a shaped bottom which makes it useful for tight sling upholstery. The outer cover of this cushion is water resistant. At the same time, its mesh fabric easily dissipates heat and moisture, keeping the skin cool and increasing comfort.

So, go make your pick! Having selected the perfect cushion for yourself, its maintenance is equally important. It should be cleaned and inspected on a regular basis. Look for tears or flaking in the foam and air or gel leakage. Likewise, the cushion cover should also be checked for any holes, tears and zipper malfunction. The bottom of most covers has a non-skid surface which too should be checked for any breakdown. Call for immediate replacement if there are any signs of wear out or damage.

 

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