Wheelchair Seat Cushions

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Published: 07th June 2010
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If you're a wheelchair user or you know someone who is, you may overlook wheelchair seat cushions as an important part of a well functioning wheelchair. Although they may seem innocuous, they are absolutely necessary because they increase both comfort and functionality. That is, because most wheelchair users spend much of their time sitting in wheelchairs, they need those wheelchairs to be as comfortable as possible. Besides comfort, there are also medical reasons to have quality wheelchair cushions in wheelchairs; because many wheelchair users may lack sensation, a wheelchair cushion can prevent pressure sores.

Beyond that, though, a properly sized and quality wheelchair seat cushion simply makes this most important mode of transportation, the wheelchair, more comfortable and functional. Before you simply run out and get any old wheelchair seat cushions, though, you have to ask important questions.

If you are the wheelchair user yourself or you are helping someone choose a wheelchair seat cushion, make sure you take lifestyle, level of activity, amount of time spent in the wheelchair, and size of wheelchair user into account. All of these things impact the choice you'll make for wheelchair cushions.

Properly fit, wheelchair seat cushions provide support as well as cushioning to wheelchair occupants. They are meant to assist body posture and are meant to match each person in terms of size, weight, and height. A well-fitted, well-made wheelchair seat cushion is going to integrate seamlessly into the wheelchair so that the wheelchair user almost won't notice it. It is simply "there" to enhance pelvic stability, improve posture, increase comfort, and, as applicable, help the wheelchair user maintain a healthy body temperature and minimize the incidence of pressure sores.

Fitting wheelchair seat cushions

Before you buy, make sure you take proper measurements and make sure the wheelchair seat cushion fits the wheelchair seat in terms of depth, width, and length. In addition, take the lifestyle of the person in question into account; how active is he or she? A very active wheelchair user is going to use a different kind of cushion than someone who's very sedentary. Similarly, ease of transportation may be an issue, since if the person is very active, he or she may be breaking down his or her chair a lot to store in a car while driving. Therefore, cushions must also be easy to remove and replace as needed. They should also be durable. Finally, a good wheelchair cushion will also have a washable cover, for hygienic reasons.

Types of wheelchair seat cushions

There are several different types of wheelchair seat cushions, made of different materials. Each of these materials has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the person and situation the seat cushion is to be used for.

Foam wheelchair cushions

These are best for overall shock absorption, but they can be hot.

Gel wheelchair cushions

Gel wheelchair cushions don't absorb shock or impact as well as foam wheelchair cushions do for particularly bumpy or rough terrain, and they can be somewhat pricier than other options. However, they absorb heat well, so they're a good choice for the sedentary or moderately active wheelchair user who needs to stay cool.

Air wheelchair seat cushions

Air wheelchair seat cushions are probably the best of all worlds, in that they conform to the user, and provide good shock absorption. However, like foam cushions, they can be hot, and they require more maintenance than the other two types, since you'll need to keep them properly inflated. The wrong amount of air (too much or too little) can make a wheelchair user's sitting ability unstable, can affect posture and pressure points, and so on.


Wheelchair cushions can be expensive; however, most medical insurance should cover their cost, as will Medicare or Medicaid. Prices range from about $50-$300, depending on the level of customization and materials used.

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