Choosing The Right Wheelchair Cushion

If you’ve ever had to sit for a long time, at your office, in a car or on a plane flight, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Well, those people who need a wheelchair due to an accident or a disability or even age related mobility issues face that dilemma daily. One of the accessories for wheelchairs that can make those people more comfortable is the wheelchair cushion. As with most innovations, the wheelchair cushion has several designs and materials to choose from to meet each individuals needs. Which cushion is the best for the user is determined by several criteria; terrain the wheelchair will be used in, size and weight of the person using the wheelchair and any special medical considerations for the wheelchair user. It’s important to choose a cushion that supports the user as well as offers comfort for the long hours in the wheelchair and shouldn’t exceed three fingers in width. Because of these considerations, customized wheelchairs have become not only a necessity, but a very big industry meeting the needs of the disabled.

There are different wheelchair cushions that have evolved over time using different materials to support and provide a comfortable base for the wheelchair user. The four main cushion designs have pros and cons to be considered before choosing the cushion right for the wheelchair user. The four current most popular are, Air Floatation, Gel, Foam and Urethane Honeycomb cushions.

First the air floatation cushion is just that, an inflated cushion using air to relieve the pressure associated with sitting for a long period of time. The down side of these cushions is that they tend to be less stable for the user if the wheelchair is moving on uneven surfaces. The other issue is that with most inflatable support systems, they can and usually do leak air requiring patching or replacement.

The gel cushion is newer technology that provides a gel pouch that is fixed on top of a foam pad. Gel technology has been used in many different areas of sports and medical applications but they tend to be heavy and if not properly maintained can leak the gel if a leak occurs.

Foam cushions have been around a long time and are used by many people confined to wheelchairs long term. These cushions offer support and comfort using foam but these cushions tend to wear out quickly and need to be replaced more often than the other cushion materials due to loosing their shape and support.

Finally, the urethane honeycomb cushion is a foam honeycomb design pad that allows for excellent air flow for cooling and also offers support for the wheelchair user. Because it gives a user the cooling affect, this has become the most popular cushion in addition to the light weight of the cushion making it easy to use.

Whichever cushion the wheelchair user chooses, make sure to consider the support offered and the comfort afforded. Consulting a medical professional or a medical supply company regarding which cushion would offer the best solution for each individual user is an important part of deciding on the cushion right for you or your loved one confined to a wheelchair.

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