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What to consider when choosing a wheelchair support cushion for your wheelchair: Cushion Sizes and Materials

Wheelchairs are brilliant devices for people with mobility problems but choosing the correct wheelchair can be a more difficult task than you think. Many different things need to be taken into account including body weight, specific disability and lifestyle

The adaptability of wheelchairs has flourished in recent years with some wheelchairs now even able to climb stairs! Customised wheelchairs have become increasingly popular and are able to perfectly fit to the person and their intentions and ambitions. The next step once a person has their suited wheelchair is choosing the perfect wheelchair support cushion to match!

Wheelchair support cushion

Sizing Up: The Measurements of your Support Cushion

Choosing the ideal wheelchair support cushion begins with choosing the size. You obviously need to consider the diameter so you can appropriately fit the cushion. You don’t want excess space around the cushion but you also don’t want to be shoving your cushion into the chair so that it creases. Know your approximate chair measurements and know what size will fit and what won’t. It is of vital importance that the cushion matches up exactly.

Equally, you need to consider the thickness of your cushion. The thickness is just as important as the width. You want your feet to be perfectly placed for comfort. Anything too high will be impractical and anything too thin will be simply uncomfortable so make sure you’ve taken thickness into account. Wheelchairs are built to adapt to your size and requirements, but remember that a cushion is going to add slightly to a wheelchairs height.

If a cushion is chosen that is too thick that it can create a problem for a wheelchair user impeding them from fitting under a table or a desk, for example. The height and thickness of a wheelchair support cushion is also vitally important in supporting the spine and relieving pressure, so get it right.

Choosing the Type of Support Cushion: Foam vs Gel vs Air

Once you know your sizing you need to decide on material. Wheelchair support cushions come in many varieties but the three common choices are foam cushions, gel cushions and air cushions.

Foam Wheelchair Support Cushions

Foam wheelchair cushions are the most basic of the selection. They are simple and perfect for those looking to spend the bare minimum. Some foam wheelchair cushions are constructed with multiple layers, while some come in a single density, but they have a reputation as not being the most breathable of the options on offer. They also don’t have a long lifespan, as daily compression often results in cushion losing its shape so that weight distribution breaks down. As a result,  it is no longer able to focus on key areas.

Foam can also be an issue for those seated for extremely long periods of time, as the limited breathability means that constant skin contact results in pressure sores. As wheelchair support cushions go, the foam wheelchair cushion is an efficient basic cushion that does a good job for occasional usage and is usually the cheapest type of wheelchair cushion.

Gel Wheelchair Support Cushions

Gel wheelchair cushions are, in some ways, an improvement of foam wheelchair cushions. Usually the base is, in fact, formed of foam whilst the rest of the cushion is made up of gel that lasts longer and better distributes weight. Over time the gel identifies pressure points on the posterior that sink into the cushion and the gel moulds around the users body shape. This conformation often takes time so it is important to be patient with gel cushions as they learn your needs and build around you to support your posture perfectly.

Gel cushions are also ideal for regulating temperature and reduce the risk of bacteria and infection. It is important to keep an eye on the skin of gel wheelchair cushions, however. If made of liquid gel, they can leak if punctured and are then difficult to repair.

Air Wheelchair Support Cushions

As you might imagine, air wheelchair cushions are filled with air. The air inside an air wheelchair support cushion is adjustable so that a reduction of air pressure means a reduction of firmness.

Air wheelchair cushions are both lighter and more durable than both foam and gel cushions. Instead of a highly-engineered gel material they use individual cells that naturally conform to the posterior of the user. Air cushions are known to be more comfortable than the other two options, thanks to their buoyancy.

Wheelchair cushions that provide airflow allow microclimate control inside the cushion itself and thereby promote dissipation of heat and perspiration. The are highly breathable and more hygienic than other cushions.

Browse a wide range of wheelchair pressure relief cushions at AiroSpring now. All cushions and pillows offer optimum comfort, hygiene and practicality and come in a variety of sizes and thickness.  

November 19, 2018 by Charles Wood