Comfort posture and support are all paramount for wheelchair users, the more so the longer they spend in their wheelchairs. This boils down to the type of seating and the wheelchair cushion deployed. Wheelchairs need to have comfortable serviceable seating because their users spend much of their time on them. Wheelchair seat cushions need to protect users against sores and bruising. Wheelchair backrests are more frequently contoured and cushioned which helps with the seating position and prevent or minimize sliding down the seat and any form of repetitive back strain.
Depending on the type, wheelchair cushions vary in cost from about £20 to £200. When choosing your cushion there are three main types to consider all with their own advantages and disadvantages.
The three types of wheelchair cushions are:
Air Wheelchair Cushions
These tend to be most expensive wheelchair cushions but are preferred because they are shaped and inflated to suit the wheelchair users needs. Air cushions are very comfortable because the pressure is distributed evenly. They tend to weigh less than gel cushions and are often waterproof allowing them to be washed with ease. Apart from the cost the only other down side is that air cushions can be easily punctured leading to deflation.
Foam Wheelchair Cushions:
These are the most traditional and economical of wheelchair cushions. They are generally light and can easily be contoured according to the users needs. However, they can wear out or compress over time making them lose their shape and therefore reducing the comfort to the user. Memory foam, although more expensive, is a relatively new invention and certainly provides a better solution than the traditional foam used.
Gel Wheelchair Cushions:
Although more expensive, gel cushions are preferred due to increased comfort and because they contour to the posture of the user and make space for the users legs. However, these are known to be less impact-absorbent so are often used in conjunction with inflatable tyres. They also tend to weigh more than other cushion types and can leak if punctured.
No matter which type of cushion you choose ensure that all aspects have been considered and that functionality and comfort are taken in to consideration. It is important that the wheelchair doesn't cause any problems that can irritate your physical disability. The seat is probably the most important part of the wheelchair as your posture can be affected dramatically.