Sitting in a wheelchair all day long is not comfortable. If you are fine, then try sitting in a chair just for a few hours, and you will see that it becomes painful at some point, which is why measures need to be taken. Imagine that a disabled person or even an individual who needs to use a wheelchair temporarily has to stay in one all day every day, for several months (or forever in some cases.) It becomes so uncomfortable at some point that the body ends up in pain. Muscle strain, pressure sores, skin ulcers, and much more will affect the body, which is why a wheelchair cushion has become a must.
If you know what is like to sit in a wheelchair at all times, then you must know how good a cushion can be for you. Maybe you tried it, or perhaps not, but I am telling you, a wheelchair cushion will improve the quality of your life considerably.
Types of wheelchair cushions
A while back, the only available option was the foam cushion, and I am not talking about the comfortable memory foam. The latter is a lot more comfortable than what it used to be in a cushion. However, over the years, scientist have come with all sorts of solutions, and manufacturers have developed new technologies that make the life of a disabled person pain-free. Here are the most common used cushion materials.
- Foam cushion – even if the foam design is not new, I think it is worth mentioning. After all, there are still cushions filled with regular foam, and they are pretty comfortable. They can alleviate pain, but only to a certain extent. However, it seems that people still buy this design, probably because it is the cheapest.
- Memory foam cushion – while we are still talking about regular foam, memory foam is entirely something else. It has an ideal density, which means that the cushion will hold the shape of the person using it. That will help with pressure sores. Memory foam is also known for the fact that it provides excellent support, which will make the person using it feel stable.
Both foams have something in common. They are the cheapest materials for wheelchair cushions, although memory foam is more expensive than the other kind. However, some people prefer them because they are easy to cut. Why would you cut the cushion? Some people like to customize their cushions, so they try them out, they see where the pressure builds up, and then they cut that section of the pillow. It may seem risky, but the foam is cheap, so it is an affordable solution. That also means that foam cushions wear out fast, so it will not be too long until you need to buy another one.
- Gel design cushion – this is a little bit more advanced, but as far as comfort goes, gel is better than foam. How are they built? Gel pads are placed on a foam base, which helps with a better distribution of pressure, thus more comfort. However, there are some drawbacks for this kind as well. First of all, gell cushions are heavier than foam cushions. So, if you want a lighter wheelchair, with gel cushions that is not about to happen. Second of all, there is always the chance that the gel will bottom-out. But you can prevent that by kneading the cushion at least once a day. Other than that, gel is perfect.
- Air flotation cushion – just as the title suggests, this cushion relies on air to keep the user comfortable. There is a balloon system filled with air that will help with the even distribution of pressure. Just like with foam, the user can choose to ‘cut loose’ a few balloons so that the skin does not come in contact with specific areas where pressure sores did some damage. By cutting loose I do not mean a literal cut, but more like tying up a few balloons so that they do not inflate. The most significant drawback of this type of cushion is maintenance. Just like any other balloon, it can pop or leak air, so you need to be extra careful.
- Urethane honeycomb cushion – this is top of the line when it comes to wheelchair cushions. That is because the concept is somewhat new, but it is incredible. For that reason alone this type is expensive. However, such a cushion is created from individual cells that are positioned like a beehive (that is where the name of honeycomb came from.) The pressure will be evenly distributed, and you do not have the risks you experience with gel or air (bottoming-out or leaking air.) The air will flow freely between the cells, which also means that the cushion will maintain a low temperature. Urethan honeycomb cushions are lightweight, and they absorb shocks perfectly. Since the technology is new, there are no known disadvantages.
How to choose the best wheelchair cushion?
The fact that there are hundreds of cushions out there does not help very much. If anything, they make you feel confused. That is why you need to determine what makes a cushion the best for you. Here are a few suggestions:
- Size and shape– cushions come in multiple shapes and sizes, and you need to establish what you need. Lucky for you, the options are many, and you have where to choose from. However, think of what is best for you, and if you have to, talk to your doctor. Perhaps he or she can advise you on which kind to buy. While square cushions can be comfortable, the ones that are shaped after your bottom may prove to be more efficient. Just think about it before making a purchase.
- Ease of cleaning – there are many ways to keep a wheelchair cushion clean. You either make it from a material that is water-resistant or you cover it with a removable and machine washable case. My advice is to choose both. A waterproof cushion will stay clean for longer, and the fact that you can remove the cover and throw it in the washing machine will make cleaning easier when you have to. You cannot go wrong with that.
- Non-slip base – you may think that this aspect is not essential, but you would be wrong. A non-slip base provides more stability than the cushions that do not have one. And if you think about it, a slip can create some serious damage for a person who cannot move.
- Breathable materials – as if the fact that you are in a wheelchair was not enough, sitting on your bottom all day long on a low-quality cushion can lead to heat retention. That is awful for your skin, and some people can develop ulcers. I do not think I have to tell you how painful they are.
What is the best wheelchair cushion?
Browsing through the numerous offers, you can find all kinds of cushions from multiple manufacturers. However, do not purchase the first product you see. You may end up with a low-quality product that you will have to replace shortly. If you do not want to trouble yourself with finding the best wheelchair cushion, here are a few suggestions that I think are perfect for you.
Duro-Med Wheelchair Cushion
The wheelchair cushion from Duro-Med is a classic square cushion that will add support, height, and comfort for the user. It is filled with high-density foam that will provide the comfort you need in order to sit in the wheelchair most of the day. It will reduce the pressure on your back and tailbone by conforming to your body’s shape.
This cushion can be used as support in a wheelchair, but you can also use it on your chair or car seat. It measures 16 by 18 inches, and it is three inches in height. As for the weight, this model is exceptionally lightweight with only 8 ounces in weight. Your wheelchair will have pretty much the same weight, so you do not have to worry about that.
The Duro-med cushion comes with a removable cover that you can wash in the washing machine. The case is made of poly cotton, and the high-density foam will not crumble. You may want to turn it over from time to time, but other than that, this is an excellent product. It is FSA-eligible. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Drive Medical 14886 Skin Protection Gel ‘E’ Wheelchair Cushion
It is possible that you have heard about Drive Medical before. They manufacture high-quality medical devices and accessories at incredibly small prices. This wheelchair cushion makes no difference. It is designed to redistribute pressure so that it can help with the prevention, treatment, and management of pressure ulcers.
Just as the title suggests, this is a gel cushion. There is a viscous gel bladder encased in a fire retardant polyurethane foam shell. The entire system will help with an even distribution of pressure, and you will get the support and comfort you need as you sit in the wheelchair. To avoid the gel bottoming-out, make sure that you knead the cushion once a day.
The cover of the cushion is removable, and you can wash it in the washing machine. There are two different sides to it. The top part is made with urethane-covered nylon that is low-shear, breathable, and water-resistant, while the base of the cover is made with waterproof vinyl for maximum durability. At the same time, the bottom of the cushion is non-slip so that you will not slide off the chair. As for the measurements, this cushion is 18 by 16 inches, three inches in height, and weighs four pounds. The weight capacity is 275 lbs. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
PharMeDoc Seat Cushion
While the PharMeDoc is a seat cushion that can be used on car seats, office chairs, or even dining chairs, it can just as easily be used in a wheelchair. It is incredibly comfortable, and you will get all the support you need. Its design ensures the fact that your back and tailbone will be pain-free. The pillow is contoured for less lower back pain, which will also help with sciatica pains. The product combines a durable foam material with an ergonomic design. As a result, the cushion will retain its shape for a long time so that you can enjoy long-lasting benefits.
While comfort is a crucial aspect, the PharMeDoc cushion will also help you with your posture and will realign your spine. The rear cut-out will make sure of that, and the fact that pillow is ergonomic will encourage a healthy sitting position. As a result, you will not feel muscle fatigue.
This cushion is very lightweight, with only 1.2 pounds. It measures 16 by 16 inches and has a height of four inches. It is portable and easy to clean. The mesh cover is removable, and you can throw it in the washing machine. The case is also made of a breathable material that will prevent heat retention, which ultimately prevents skin ulcers. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
The cushion you buy depends on your budget, but none of the cushions above are expensive. In fact, they are pretty cheap but provide the comfort and support you need. However, if I were to choose one, I would go with the PharMeDoc Seat Cushion. It has the ergonomic design that provides comfort, the shape makes me believe it is more comfortable and supportive than the square products. I think it is the best wheelchair cushion in this price range.
While sitting in a wheelchair is not pleasant, that does not mean you must be deprived of all possible comfort. A wheelchair cushion will help with that so that you do not feel unnecessary pain or develop skin ulcers. If you use one, you will feel more stable, and your quality of life will improve. It may be a lot of pressure on a simple pillow, but I think you will appreciate it. All you have to do is look at the models above and pick one. Whichever you choose, I guarantee you will enjoy it. Click here to buy on Amazon