An estimated 3.6 million people over the age of 15 use a wheelchair in the United States, many of whom lead active lifestyles with the help of their chairs. While wheelchairs are great on their own for mobility, after a time they can become uncomfortable if you don’t have the right wheelchair cushions to make them as comfortable as possible.
While there are many wheelchair alterations that can make everyday use easier and more comfortable, choosing the right type of wheelchair cushions can make a significant difference. The main types include:
Here is what you need to know about each type.
1. Foam Cushions
The most commonly used type of cushion, this is a basic low maintenance option that offers decent support and maneuverability. They are also lightweight making them easy to switch out, clean, or moved between chairs. The downsides of these cushions are that the pressure relief can be limited and comfort can dwindle after a couple of hours of use.
2. Gel Cushions
Gel wheelchair cushions are great for more evenly distributing weight and relieving pressure points, provided the gel is sufficiently thick. With a stable surface and cooling abilities, this option may work better for some; however, it does have weight restrictions in addition to being heavier than foam and susceptible to ruptures and leaks. That said, some people do prefer gel cushions due to their support and pressure relief.
3. Air Cushions
Air wheelchair cushions are great for both pressure relief and weight distribution. Using adjustable air sacks that can be inflated or deflated depending on what a user wants, an air cushion is one of the best choices for those with hemorrhoids or sores that make other cushions uncomfortable. That said, these cushions aren’t as stable as other options and might not offer the positioning necessary for those with sciatica or orthopedic coccyx pain.
4. Honeycomb Cushions
The design of these cushions makes them both highly stable and able to stand up to extended pressure. With a cooling effect similar to gel cushions and the ability to customize the shape, these cushions are often used by those who haven’t found the comfort they need from other options. The main downsides with this type include average weight distribution and positioning; however, this is often overlooked due to the significant boost in durability and comfort.
5. Hybrid Cushions
Hybrid wheelchair cushions are the newest on the market and come from years of testing and feedback from users. If you spend hours every day in your chair, this cushion can be one of the best options for comfort. Created from a foam-based and air cells, these cushions allow for even pressure distribution and tissue protection. Ideal for preventing pressure ulcers and providing a stable seat for weight up to 500 lbs, these cushions are something to consider if you need all-day comfort and support.
The wheelchair cushions that you choose with depending on how long you spend in your chair each day, underlying health issues, and comfort considerations. You might also consider investing in multiple cushions to ensure you can switch between different types depending on what you need that day. Overall, keep in mind your individual needs and don’t hesitate to try different options to ensure you can find the right wheelchair cushion for your lifestyle.