How to Choose a Wheelchair Cushion
Which Cushion Type Is Right For Me?
|Flat Foam||Shaped Foam||Flat Gel||Shaped Gel||Air|
|Posture Support||None||Minimal||None||Moderate - Hight||Adjustable|
|Max Hours Per Day||2 - 4||4 - 8||8 - 16||16||Continual|
|Maintenance||Little - None||Little - None||Regular||Regular||Occasional|
Foam Wheelchair Cushions
Foam is light and varies widely in stiffness and density. Proper stiffness, density and resilience help ensure adequate support and an effective lifespan. Foam envelops the buttocks well, but can be hot and is damaged by moisture and light, so a protective cover should be used. Foam wheelchair cushions absorb impact loads well.
Gel Wheelchair Cushions
These materials are good at minimizing heat and are typically encased by a protective cover that is easily cleaned. Because of their incompressible nature, viscous fluid and gel wheelchair cushions often use a contoured non-deforming foam base or a flat, compressible foam base to better enable the cushion to conform around the body and absorb impact.
Air Wheelchair Cushions
Air wheelchair cushions are adjustable and require regular maintenance to meet the unique needs of each user. Air cushions are extremely durable, comfortable and provide maximum protection against skin breakdown. An air cushion will provide skin protection and comfort for years to come when properly maintained.
When choosing a wheelchair cushion, there are some questions you should ask yourself:
- How many hours a day do you spend in a wheelchair? If it's only an hour or two, a flat foam cushion will keep you comfortable at an affordable price. If you spend four to eight hours in your chair, a shaped foam cushion will give you more support, and help your posture. Sitting straight and square in your chair is important to your comfort!
- If you are in your wheelchair eight to twelve hours a day, the added pressure relief of a gel/ foam combination cushion is recommended. They have a foam base, with gel chambers on top. Since the gel is able to flow inside those chambers, the cushion can actually conform to your body, taking pressure off and so keeping your skin healthy. Gel/ Foam cushions also come in flat models that provide comfort and pressure relief only, or shaped styles to help with posture and support as well.
- If you are a full-time chair user, or have any skin breakdown issues then air cushions are the most recommended for you. They are made up of individual air cells that move with you throughout the day to avoid getting pressure sores, and even heal existing skin breakdown. They allow for good circulation underneath of your body, and resist heat buildup. They come in a variety of styles and thicknesses all geared to getting and keeping you well.