When many wheelchair users think of a wheelchair cushion, comfort comes to mind. However, a wheelchair cushion provides benefits beyond comfort. Including pressure management and positioning, reducing fatigue, and enhancing seated balance throughout the day. Not everyone’s positioning and sense of comfort are the same, so understanding the different cushions is key to selecting the right wheelchair cushion for you. Here’s a Guide For Helping Select the Right Wheelchair Cushion.
Foam Cushions are the most basic wheelchair cushion, ideal for those wishing simplicity at a minimal cost. While some foam wheelchair cushions are single-density (firmness), others feature contoured bases with multiple foam layers designed to enhance pressure management and positioning.
A foam cushion may be best for you if you need:
- Low maintenance Minimal cost A very stable seating surface Low to mid-range positioning Lightweight
A foam cushion may not be best for you if you need:
- Exceptional pressure relief Advanced positioning characteristics
Gel cushions are specifically designed to optimize pressure relief by allowing pressure points to “immerse” into a gel pack, reducing pressure. Additionally, gel cushions typically feature a contoured base with advanced positioning characteristics.
A gel cushion may be best for you if you need:
- Optimal pressure relief Advanced positioning A very stable seating surface Low maintenance.
A gel cushion may not be best for you if you need:
- Lightweight Low cost
Air Cushions are filled with air, as the name suggests, and the cushion’s firmness by adjusting the air pressure. Air cushions typically offer reduced stability and positioning by comparison to wheelchair foam and gel cushions. Still, they are exceptional in the area of pressure relief, allowing pressure points to “sink” into the cushion. Air cushions are available in 2″ and 4″ heights, with the 2″ offering a low-profile, more stable surface, and the 4″ offering maximum pressure relief. Air wheelchair cushions can be the most expensive of all the wheelchair cushions, so if you have the means to purchase an air cushion, this is my recommendation for wheelchair cushions.
An air cushion may be best for you if you need:
- Exceptional pressure relief, Adjustable firmness, Lightweight, Low maintenance
An air cushion may not be best for you if you need:
- Low maintenance (air cushions require regular monitoring of air pressure and can develop leaks) Advanced positioning characteristics Utmost seating surface stability Low cost
- Wheelchairs Cushion size should match exactly to the wheelchair’s seat size.
- Remember that a seat cushion’s height adds to the wheelchair’s seat-to-floor height, so a taller cushion will cause you to sit taller so fitting you chair under a table or a desk might be something you might want to take in to consideration when choosing a wheelchair cushion
- Choose a cushion that has a cover that can be cleaned regularly
- Inspect the cushion regularly for degraded materials or damaged foam
- Always check with a professional when getting fitted for a wheelchair cushion in the long this will save you time and money.
I hope this guide will help you choose the right wheelchair cushion that meets your needs and your pocketbook.