According to reports, there are 3.3 million wheelchair users in the US alone.
Being confined to a wheelchair can have a number of adverse effects, including depression and physical symptoms such as back pain, ulcers, and more.
Fortunately, cushion products designed for wheelchairs can ease some of the mal effects that users suffer from. However, in order to gain relief, it is imperative that you choose the best type of wheelchair cushion.
Cheap quality cushions made from inferior foam products might provide minimal relief, but they won't be as beneficial as high-quality cushions designed specifically for wheelchair users.
The good news, however, is that getting hold of a good wheelchair cushion isn't hard if you know what to look for. If you or a loved one needs relief from wheelchair related discomfort or afflictions, keep reading for a deep dive on the best types of wheelchair cushions.
Why Wheelchair Cushions Are Important
Before we get into which wheelchair cushions are the best, let's take a look at why wheelchair cushions are so important.
To begin with, not all wheelchairs come with adequate padding and cushioning. Manual wheelchairs are often the worst. They are generally hard, with little to no padding, and lack proper ergonomic features.
Power wheelchairs are generally better equipped and more comfortable. However, even power wheelchairs can lack support. Depending on your individual body shape, you might find the backrest to be uncomfortable, or the seat to be too hard or too soft.
Wheelchairs Can Cause Back Pain and Ulcers
Besides these wheelchair specific issues, there are also a number of problems that can occur from simply having to remain seated.
Two of the most common of these are ulcers and back pain. According to research, 60% of wheelchair users are likely to experience ulcers.
Ulcers typically occur on one's legs, back, and hindquarters. The reason for this is that sitting for prolonged periods in a wheelchair reduces circulation. The restricted blood flow causes the blood vessels and capillaries in these areas to become compromised, eventually leading to the formation of ulcers.
Impaired blood flow from wheelchair use also increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis, as well as other cardiovascular issues.
The other major impact that many wheelchair users suffer from is back problems. Studies show that back pain among wheelchair users is high and that inadequate cushioning could be partly to blame.
Enhanced Cushioning Can Offer Relief
Fortunately, although back pain and ulcers are common among wheelchair users, optimal cushioning can offer some relief.
When it comes to back pain, the right type of cushion can offer enhanced support. This relieves pressure and compression on the spine. Optimized seating and wheelchair cushions can also work to improve posture.
One of the main reasons for wheelchair-related back pain is poor posture. Poor posture can be caused by a weakening of one's trunk muscles as well as inadequate support. If a wheelchair is not comfortable—users are likely to either slouch backward, to enhance stability in the seat—or slump forwards.
Neither of these positions is good for the spine. Over time this can lead to pain and discomfort.
Fortunately, good wheelchair cushions can prevent this by helping users to sit in a way that keeps their spine aligned.
When it comes to ulcers, proper cushioning is also key. By alleviating pressure from key points on the back, hips, and legs, better blood flow can be achieved. With better blood flow comes a reduced risk of ulcers.
Now that we know about a few of the common wheelchair related issues that wheelchair cushions can alleviate, let's get into the different types of cushions that are available and which are the best.
What Are the Best Types of Wheelchair Cushions?
There are numerous types of wheelchair cushions available and it can be hard to know which is the best to choose.
Some of the most common wheelchair cushion types are air cushions, foam cushions, and gel cushions.
Air cushions are, as the name suggests, filled with air. They provide superior levels of pressure relief. However, they can be very unstable. They also are not contoured and are prone to leaking air. Besides this, air cushions can also be expensive when compared to other options.
Gel cushions are similar to air cushions in that they are designed to focus on alleviating pressure. However, they are quite heavy, moderately costly, and can be prone to ruptures.
Foam cushions come in a variety of quality levels. Because of this they also have varying functionality. Low-quality foam wheelchair cushions generally do not last very long or provide good support.
However, there is one type of foam that stands out above the rest and makes some of the best wheelchair cushions. It is memory foam. Thanks to memory foam's unique capabilities, it is almost tailor-made for wheelchair use.
Let's investigate the main reasons why memory foam wheelchair cushions are some of the best.
Why Memory Foam Cushions Are Ideal for Wheelchairs
Memory foam has a number of benefits and is particularly suited for use in wheelchairs.
The reason for this lies in how memory foam works. Developed in the 1970s for NASA to protect astronauts from the impact of re-entering the earth's atmosphere, it is now used for cushioning and mattress products.
Superior Support and Pressure Alleviation
Memory foam has a unique structure that makes it yield when in contact with one's body heat. When you come into contact with memory foam, it sinks away to evenly match the contours of your body. The result is a cushion that molds itself to each individual's unique shape.
At the same time, memory foam also provides uniform support across all the areas of the body that are in contact with it. This is ideal for wheelchair use. Not only does it reduce pressure and compression on the body, but it also increases comfort and support.
When compared to other alternatives, such as air cushions, memory foam wheelchair cushions also provide superior stability. For wheelchair users that move around in their chair and have superior mobility, seat stability can be key.
Always Bouncing Back
Another benefit of memory foam is that it regains it's shape literally thousands of times. This means you can use your memory foam wheelchair cushion for years and years.
Besides offering superior levels of support and enhancing circulation, memory foam cushions are also hypoallergenic. If you have sensitivities to common allergens such as dust and dust mites, this can be a valuable benefit.
The dense structure of memory foam contains sealed off air pockets. This means that dust and its insect companion, dust mites, cannot enter the foam.
Continued exposure to dust mites can trigger a variety of uncomfortable symptoms if you have allergies or sensitivities. If you are an allergy sufferer, swapping out regular foam pillow inserts for memory foam can instantly eliminate a common source of allergens and give you much-needed relief.
Another attribute of memory foam wheelchair cushions is that they are highly long-lasting. This can be an important consideration in wheelchair cushions.
Many wheelchair users spend the majority of the day in their chairs. This means that wheelchair cushions have to be able to stand up to near-constant use, otherwise they will need to be replaced frequently. Something which can be costly and inconvenient.
As we mentioned above, some types of wheelchair cushions are prone to deterioration, such as cheap foam inserts, and air and gel cushions.
Memory foam wheelchair cushions, on the other hand, do not have this problem. Most estimates state that memory foam mattresses can last for over 8 years. Memory foam cushions can, in some cases, last even longer than this.
What's more, if you know where to shop, you can even get a memory foam cushion for wheelchairs that will last you a lifetime. Want to know where that is? Right here at Everlasting Comfort.
We believe in comfort and pain relief solutions that last for the long haul. Therefore, we have a lifetime guarantee on all of our memory foam products. Under this guarantee, if anything goes wrong with your cushion that is beyond your control, we will replace it entirely free of charge.
This means that when you shop with us, you only have to buy your wheelchair cushion insert once. After that, it's on us to replace it if it gives out. If this sounds like your kind of solution, then take a look at our gel-infused cushion for wheelchairs, made out of 100% memory foam.
Speaking of gel-infused, let's quickly delve into the heat retention and distribution properties of the different types of memory foam now available.
One of the properties of memory foam is that it's excellent at absorbing and storing heat. This can be ideal for people who feel the cold.
However, many wheelchair users struggle with the opposite problem. Being seated all day in one position can often lead to a heat build-up. If you are a wheelchair user, then you are probably all too familiar with the sticky, clammy feeling that can come with prolonged periods on your chair.
In this case, the last thing you would likely want is a cushion that stores heat.
Fortunately, innovations in memory foam products have now made it possible to get self-cooling memory foam wheelchair cushions as well. Nowadays you get what is called gel-infused memory foam (like the cushion we mentioned above).
This type of memory foam is infused with cooling gel beads. These work to quickly distribute heat out of the memory foam and prevent heat buildup. If you struggle with overheating, then gel-infused memory foam cushions are an ideal option.
Memory Foam Cushions Are Also Great for Lumbar Support
So far we have been primarily talking about seat cushions for wheelchairs. However, wheelchair users often require additional back and lumbar support as well. Here again, memory foam cushions can be ideal.
When it comes to lumbar support, it is very important that the cushion you choose curves precisely to the natural shape of your spine. Most cushions are unable to do that, thanks to the fact that everyone's spine is slightly different.
Memory foam cushions, however, do not have that problem. Because of their one-of-a-kind molding capabilities, memory foam wheelchair cushions can depress evenly to match the natural curve of your spine and offer even cushioned support.
If you would like to optimize your wheelchair with lumbar support, take a look at our gel-infused memory foam lumbar support pillow.
Common Questions Around Memory Foam Wheelchair Cushions
Are you interested in investing in a memory foam wheelchair cushion? If so, you might have some questions. Here are some of the common things people ask before buying a memory foam pillow.
Do Memory Foam Cushions Work?
If you have never used a memory foam cushioned before, you might be questioning if they're all they cracked up to be. If you're wondering whether memory foam cushions really do work, we recommend that you take a look at the reviews under the memory foam wheelchair cushion we mentioned earlier.
From there you will be able to get a good idea of whether they can provide real relief. Spoiler alert: the majority of our customers report great results using memory foam cushions.
Are Memory Foam Wheelchair Cushions Washable?
Another important concern around wheelchair cushions is whether they can be washed. If you spend numerous hours in your wheelchair per day, then washing any pillows can be a must.
If this is a concern for you, then you'll be happy to know that memory foam cushions are washable. Our slips covers are removable, for easy washing. If you wish to wash the pillow itself, you can do so by submerging it in warm water with a small amount of mild soap.
Once rinsed, squeeze the pillow to remove excess moisture and allow it to fully dry.
Invest in the Best Wheelchair Cushion Today
Having the right cushioning in a wheelchair is essential. Without it, wheelchair users are in danger of aggravated back issues and an increased risk of ulcers.
If you are in need of a longlasting, supportive, and comfortable cushion for your wheelchair then browse our range of memory foam products today. There you will find our wheelchair cushion, as well as lumbar support cushions, neck cushions, and more.