Wheelchairs can grant users a level of freedom and independence they may not otherwise have. Unfortunately, most standard wheelchair seats don’t provide the ergonomic support required to keep you comfortable and healthy.
Nobody should have to deal with the discomfort and negative long-term consequences of an inadequate cushion, which is why you should begin your search for a true orthopedic cushion for your wheelchair.
Here are a few things you need to consider when tracking down the best cushion for your chair, and some tips to make the most of your investment.
The Right Fit
Ergonomics is the art and science of optimizing our bodies’ interactions with our working environment and the equipment we use to live our best lives.
Wheelchairs are designed to give us high leverage over the wheels to maximize our movement and maneuver more easily, but when it comes to seat cushions, the fit never seems quite right.
The first problem wheelchair users commonly encounter is pressure sores, which result from the improper distribution of weight across the seat cushion. Ever worn a pair of shoes that are a size too small? Imagine that feeling on your legs, hips, and butt all day long. Not fun.
Not only are these sores extremely uncomfortable and demoralizing, but they can also lead to more serious concerns like an infection that can last months or years.
When picking a wheelchair seat cushion, your main priority should be finding a product that provides equal parts comfort, support, and optimal weight distribution.
Look for a U-shaped cushion that fits the contours of your body and makes it easy to maintain great posture throughout the day, then say goodbye to pressure sores forever.
The Best Materials
Cushion shape and size are only two pieces of the puzzle. The materials that make up your wheelchair cushion are just as important, and with your health and happiness on the line, you can’t settle for less.
You may find that the inflatable cushions lack stability, and standard foam and gel cushions end up becoming flat and uncomfortable with time. The material you should look for is gel-infused memory foam, which will morph and mold to your exact dimensions as you sit.
Since memory foam softens under pressure with body heat, it automatically gives you the most ergonomic and supportive cushion possible. It’s also a low-maintenance material that you never need to adjust or tweak to get the fit you want.
Any bit of added convenience counts for a lot when navigating the world in a wheelchair, so make sure your chosen seat cushion is loaded with features that make things easier.
One non-negotiable feature is a non-slip rubber bottom that will keep your cushion firmly in place no matter how you wiggle or maneuver. Next, you’ll want to look for air ventilation that keeps you cool during a day of adventuring in the sun.
Finally, make sure your cushion comes with a machine-washable cover that you can toss in the laundry and clear away any unwanted odors or particles.
Your wheelchair cushion is going to get a lot of use, so longevity is a key component when making a buy. Inflatable cushions are prone to leaking air, and normal foam cushions never last as long as you want.
A top-tier memory foam cushion will stay comfortable and functional for two to three years, and the best brands will offer lifetime replacement guarantees as well.
Purchasing a wheelchair seat cushion isn’t just a quick fix for a minor problem. It’s an investment in your long-term health and wellbeing, and should be taken seriously. These tips will help you select the best possible cushion for your needs.