Post by Lαrα on May 27, 2014 1:40:14 GMT -8
I have been looking round at the different types of cushions that are available for chairs. I admit that i have been pretty ignorant on what options are available and what the different materials/specifications offer so this guide is interesting for me!
Why do we need to use a cushion?
Wheelchair cushions are specifically essential in helping to prevent pressure sores. The cushions function is to help distribute pressure evenly and offer support. Blood flow can become restricted very easily when pressure is caused by an area of the body that is taking significant weight on a surface area of the body that has muscle wastage (antrophy). The pressure is more significant as there is little 'cushioning' between the seatbone and the chair, the skin can also shear easily.
A suitable cushion can also help you sit correctly in your chair and benefits your posture and stability.
Lets look at the different options available
Comes in range of densities.
Holds shape (memory).
Provides even support.
Can be cut to relieve sores.
Nothing to leak
Wears out faster.
Loses its shape.
Old, compressed foam could lead to a sore.
Excellent pressure distribution.
May have supplemental inserts to stabilize legs.
Chance of leakage.
Less able to absorb impact.
Some designs allow gel to push out to sides.
Air Floatation Cushions
Even pressure distribution.
Will not bottom out if properly inflated.
Can be modified to relieve pressure sores.
Some models inflate to user's specific needs.
Chance of puncture/leakage.
High maintenance: need to check pressure frequently.
Urethane Honeycombe Cushions
Low profile in appearance.
Distributes weight evenly.
Keeps skin cooler.
No risk of leakage.
The material may collapse under a heavy shock or load
It is expensive
Complains that with time the material loses its shock absorption properties
Hybrid Wheelchair Cushions (combine two or more of the materials discussed above)
One material's strength can make up for the other material's weakness and vice versa.
More maintenance can be involved.
Dynamic wheelchair cushions
combine hydraulics and other materials (air) to alternate pressure areas
minimises the amount of pressure
There is movement in the cushion so may feel unstable
Durability: The life of a wheelchair cushion is approx 2-5 years, with air and foam probably the least durable. But experience varies greatly with this.
Weight: Foam and urethane honeycomb wheelchair cushions usually weigh approximately 3lbs (1.5kg), Air 5ibs (2.5kg) and Gel 8-12lbs (4-6kg). However, watch for lightweight gel cushions, as they will soon hit the market.
The average life of a cushion is quite wide between 2-5 years so always check your cushion to ensure that it is still doing its job. Be vigilant and change your cushion as soon as you feel it needs changing otherwise it will not be doing its job properly.
Guarantee: A typical guarantee is two years. Check with your dealer about their terms. Especially important for an air wheelchair cushion as leaks are a frequent hazard.
Maintenance: Air wheelchair cushions are often high maintenance, as you will need to check the air pressure frequently. In addition, ask about cleaning. All wheelchair cushions should be cleaned regularly but some are easier to clean than others.
Its always good policy to listen to others experiences with different types of cushions. Try out your options first and if you need a second opinion dont hesitate in contacting your rehab team for advice.
Mine was supplied to me whilst i was in rehab but it will be coming up for a change soon and i will defienitely speak to my Occupational Therapist first!
I want to also add that one our staff member Butiki experienced some issues with nerve pain when his cushion was ready for a change. The thread is definitely worth a read and discusses pressure mapping, Click to read here