Living in a wheelchair can bring with it a variety of challenges and surprises you may never have expected. One of the biggest is that most standard wheelchair seats are not remotely suitable for keeping you comfortable and healthy. Many wheelchair users fight with pain, pressure sores, and infections thanks to inadequate wheelchair cushions.
Finding the right cushion for a wheelchair can make a huge difference in your life. Read on to discover some of the benefits of having a wheelchair cushion and what you should look for in your next cushion.
Wheelchair Seat Problems
Whether you’re a new wheelchair user or have been using one for years, you may have noticed several problems with the cushions that come standard in wheelchairs. For one thing, pressure sores are an extremely common problem among wheelchair users. These can become infected and may cause problems for years.
You may also notice you have a hard time staying upright in your wheelchair. Standard wheelchair seats don’t provide much friction, and it can be hard to readjust your posture on your own. You may also notice that your seat gets hot and moist as your day goes on, making your chair uncomfortable and creating the perfect breeding ground for infection.
One of the best things a good wheelchair seat cushion can do is redistribute pressure on your seat. In a standard wheelchair seat, most of your body weight is going to sit on your hips, tailbone, and certain points along your thighs. These high-pressure areas can start to have problems over time, including pressure sores, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
The right wheelchair cushion can help to distribute your weight more evenly across your entire seat. This ensures that no one point is receiving too much pressure, reducing your risk of developing pressure sores. It can also make people with osteoporosis and arthritis much more comfortable, since their hips and coccyx aren’t receiving as much pressure.
Prevent and Control Infections
When it comes to pressure sore infections, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By getting a good wheelchair cushion, you can stop infections before they ever begin. This can save you the trouble of long, painful battles to get infections under control.
If you do already have pressure sore infections, a good wheelchair seat cushion can help you get those infections under control. It’s hard to heal when your wound is receiving the same constant pressure that caused it in the first place. By redistributing your weight, you give those wounds a chance to heal, reducing the amount of time you have to spend in bed or fighting infections.
Wheelchair seats can get very hot, especially if they aren’t properly ventilated. This can make you very uncomfortable, especially if you are trying to heal from pressure sores. Even keeping your spaces cooler may not be enough to keep you comfortable if you have heat pooling and circulating around your seat.
Wheelchair seat cushions can provide the sort of cooling comfort you need throughout your day. Some come infused with gel, which helps to move heat away from your body, keeping you cool. Others have special ventilation holes cut to make sure you have plenty of airflow and don’t get overheated.
Moisture control can also be a problem for many wheelchair users, even those who don’t deal with incontinence. If you’re overheated, your seat may start to sweat, which can create an uncomfortable moist environment. And if you’re already dealing with pressure sore infections, the last thing you want is to foster a warm, damp environment.
By keeping your seat cooler, wheelchair seat cushions can help to keep you from sweating so much, keeping your seat drier. Those ventilation holes we mentioned earlier can also ensure you have adequate airflow to wick existing moisture away. And if you do live with incontinence, you can get cushions with special covers that are moisture-resistant and easy to launder.
Maintain Better Posture
Many wheelchair users struggle with bad posture, which can cause a number of serious problems. It’s easy to slide down in a standard wheelchair seat, and many people have trouble readjusting their posture on their own. You can end up slouched in your chair, which places unnecessary strain on your spine.
The right wheelchair cushion can make it easy to sit up straight in your chair all day long. Good cushions have no-slip bases that keep them in place and covers that give you enough traction to keep you in place. These cushions are also shaped in a way that keeps your hips positioned properly so you can maintain good posture all day long.
Getting the Right Fit
When you’re shopping for a wheelchair cushion, it’s important to make sure you get one that fits just right. A cushion that’s too small can slide around your chair, not giving you the sort of support you need. One that’s too big can squish in on the sides, placing more pressure on your hips and placing additional sites at risk of infection.
In general, it’s a good idea to look for a wheelchair cushion that measures 18” by 17” by at least 3”. This size will fit most standard wheelchairs, giving you the support you need without causing extra pressure spots. It will also fit well in most other seats, so you can take your comfort with you no matter where you’re sitting.
What to Look For
There are a few additional things you want to look for in your wheelchair seat cushion. For one thing, aim to get a cushion that has a no-slip base. This will ensure that your cushion doesn’t slide around in your chair as you shift and move throughout the day.
You should also look for a cushion with a cover that’s easy to remove and wash. Try to get one that’s ventilated to ensure you stay cool and dry throughout your day. And make sure you get one that’s lightweight so it’s easy to maneuver when you’re shifting in and out of your wheelchair.
You’ll have a few different options when it comes to material for your wheelchair cushion. Some cushions are inflatable, filled with air and adjusted to different pressure levels. However, these cushions require a lot of maintenance, can develop leaks, and don’t provide a very stable seating surface.
Many wheelchair cushions are made from either foam or gel. Foam cushions are low-maintenance and provide a stable seating surface, while gel cushions are great for relieving pressure and are very cooling. But the best wheelchair cushions on the market are made with gel-infused memory foam.
What Is Memory Foam?
We’ve all heard of memory foam, but what is it? Memory foam is a kind of dense polymer foam that can be molded into a wide variety of shapes, depending on your needs. You may hear it called “viscoelastic foam,” but that’s just a fancy way to refer to memory foam’s most amazing property.
Memory foam has the remarkable ability to both flex under your weight (elastic) and hold its form without collapsing entirely (visco). And the best part is, memory foam is designed to get softer as it absorbs body heat. This means that the foam will give way under points of highest pressure while still providing plenty of support for areas of lower pressure.
Benefits of Memory Foam
There are a number of benefits to having a wheelchair cushion made out of memory foam. For one thing, thanks to its softening capabilities, it can redistribute your weight and help to reduce pressure. This reduction in pressure can also improve your circulation, lowering your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, a dangerous clotting disorder.
Because it molds to your form, memory foam can also make it easier to maintain good posture all day long. When you sit in a normal wheelchair cushion, your hips can slide out of alignment, placing strain on your low back and pulling your upper spine and neck into odd angles. A memory foam cushion can help keep your hips where they’re meant to be and maintain your spine’s natural curves.
Benefits of Gel Foam
Gel-infused memory foam can add another layer of comfort to your every day. For one thing, gel is very cooling, pulling heat away from your body and keeping you comfortable. It can also provide a little more of a stable base for your wheelchair seat, thanks to its more fluid nature.
But best of all, gel-infused memory foam is ideal for removing pressure from those hotspots on your seat. The gel shifts naturally with your body’s movements, cradling you in an almost weightless cushion. It’s fluid enough to alleviate pressure while remaining solid enough to support you.
Cleaning Memory Foam
Even if you have a removable, washable cover on your seat cushion, you’ll still need to clean the cushion itself from time to time. Begin by filling a sink or tub with lukewarm – not hot – water, and mix in a little gentle laundry detergent. Dip a clean cloth in the water and use it to scrub away any spots, stains, or dirty areas on your pillow.
Once all stains have been removed, drain your sink and run it full of clean, cold water. Use this to rinse the spots you’ve washed until your water is running clear. Then allow your cushion to dry for at least twenty-four hours on a flat, ventilated surface.
Where to Use Your Cushion
While your seat cushion will certainly get the most use in your wheelchair, there are several other places it can be helpful. If you have a long commute, your seat cushion can be a great way to keep you comfortable on the drive. Bring it along any time you plan a road trip, or just keep one in the car for maximum comfort.
You may also want to bring your seat cushion to places you plan to be out of your chair for long periods. If you use a different office chair than your wheelchair, you’ll certainly want a cushion there. This will help you maintain good posture and keep you comfortable throughout your workday.
Lifespan of a Wheelchair Cushion
Wheelchair seat cushions undergo a lot of wear and tear since you’re using them every minute you’re up and around for years. Under these conditions, even the best cushions will start to break down with time. It’s a good idea to replace your wheelchair seat cushion every two to three years to make sure it stays in good shape.
However, at Everlasting Comfort, we offer a lifetime replacement guarantee on our seat cushions. If anything ever happens to your cushion, you can contact us and get a free replacement. This helps us ensure you never have to be without a wheelchair cushion again.
Find the Best Cushion for a Wheelchair
Finding the best cushion for a wheelchair is no small decision. You need to find something that will provide you the support you need without placing too much pressure on any given spot. Gel-infused memory foam cushions are the best option for this, providing a stable base and the kind of comfort you deserve in your every day.
If you’d like to start living your best pain-free life, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We offer everything from memory foam cushions and pillows to essential oil diffusers and humidifiers. Shop our collections today and start living the life of comfort you deserve.