Wheelchair Pressure Reduction Cushions

There are a few types of pressure reduction cushions and I've described the attributes of the most commonly used ones. Pressure reduction cushions must be soft enough to contour to the shape of the user, solid enough to prevent the user from sinking right through the cushion and firm enough to provide some positioning.

Described here are the basic pressure reduction cushions. There are various combinations of these basic materials to produce hybrids.

High Density Foam Cushions

The foam pressure reduction cushions are made up of a couple of different densities of high quality foam. These cushions are contoured for positioning and covered with both a waterproof inner cover and a waterproof, breathable outer cover. Because of the thickness of these cushions, often they tend to elevate the user too high in the chair. In cases where this is an issue, these cushions are also manufactured as drop bases which allows the cushion to be mounted in the wheelchair lower than would be possible if the cushion was simply placed on the seat upholstery. Foam pressure reduction cushions are low maintenance and are popular for users who are not at the highest level of risk for pressure sores.

Invacare Max Contour Cushion

Polymer Gel Cushions

There are two types of cushions that are commonly referred to as gel cushions. The first is a no maintenance form of polymer gel that is similar in consistency to jello and has a plastic membrane covering it to help it hold it's shape. This type of gel is available in various thickness' and can be cut into smaller shapes and used as padding as long as the edges are sealed where cut. Because the gel is waterproof, there is no need for waterproof covers. These cushions are thin, heavy and non contoured but in some cases the best option for the user.

Action Akton Gel Wheelchair Cushion

Flowing Gel Cushion

The second type of gel cushion consists of a gel with the consistency of a soft putty which is contained in a sealed plastic bladder and mounted on a contoured solid foam base. The manufacturer of this type of cushion also supplies many differently shaped contoured pieces of foam that can be added between the gel bladder and the foam base for added positioning. While being an excellent type of cushion or pressure reduction, prevention of pressure sores. and positioning, this cushion will require a bit of maintenance. Because of the consistency of the gel there is a tendency to sink all the way through the gel eventually so the gel should be kneaded before each transfer into the wheelchair. These components of these cushions are also waterproof and while it's not necessary to have have a waterproof cover, they are available.

Jay 2 Wheelchair Cushion

Air Cushions

Air cushions provide the highest pressure reduction and prevention of pressure sores available, if configured properly, but offer the lowest positioning attributes. Air cushions, when configured properly, allow the user to sink most of the way through the cushion without bottoming out, thus distributing the user's weight over a large area. Getting the proper pressure can take a bit of practice and air pressure should be checked daily. Because of the maintenance required, these cushions should only be used when either the user or caregiver are willing and able to perform this maintenance. As with the gel cushions, the air cushions are waterproof but waterproof covers are available.

Roho Wheelchair Cushion

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