Which wheelchair cushion is best?
Wheelchair cushions are important for more than just comfort, they can also help prevent pressure sores and compensate for anatomical imbalances. Many users also find that they reduce the risk of sliding out of your chair too.
While many wheelchair cushions may look very similar from the outside, the internal foam component can vary greatly from one to the next. Those made from a dense and high-quality foam, such as the Everlasting Comfort Gel Memory Foam Wheelchair Cushion, offer the best support and pressure relief. This particular model also features a ventilated design to keep you cool.
Along with the internal foam material, there are other aspects of wheelchair cushions that should be considered before making a purchase. These include the cover material, whether or not it has a waterproof layer, how easy it is to care for and more.
What to know before you buy a wheelchair cushion
If you haven’t already done so, consider getting a postural assessment and musculoskeletal exam before purchasing a wheelchair cushion. These can help determine what kind of cushion shape is best suited to your body.
For example, contoured cushions can help those who have a posterior pelvic tilt compensate for their imbalance, while anti-thrust cushions will help those with an anterior pelvic tilt. If you tend to slump or slide forward in your seat, a wedge cushion might be the right choice to prevent that, but if it is very severe you may need to opt for a model with a pommel. There are also cushions with sacral cutouts that can relieve pressure on the tailbone.
Not all wheelchairs have the same size seat, and likewise, not all cushions have the same dimensions. It is important to match the size of the wheelchair cushion with that of the seat. Otherwise, you risk it sliding around during use. This can be uncomfortable at best, and potentially lead to injury at worst.
If you use a bariatric wheelchair, you’ll want to also use a bariatric cushion. These are made with denser foams and sturdier materials that are designed to handle the extra weight without losing their loft. They will also be more comfortable for heavier individuals, since it is less likely you will feel the seat through the cushion.
Features to look for in a quality wheelchair cushion
The filling of a wheelchair cushion dictates many aspects of its comfort. Certain materials, like memory foam are very supportive and retain their loft well, but they can also be very warm. To combat this, some manufacturer’s incorporate a cooling gel into their foam cushions. This gel also helps improve weight dispersion. You can also opt for a honeycomb type of material or another type of ventilated design for added breathability.
Another option is an air-filled cushion. These are not usually made from a breathable material, but will have a grid-like or similar design to allow for airflow. The main benefit of these, however, is their ability to be customized to your preferred firmness.
It is best to avoid poly-fill and similar materials, as these aren’t very supportive and will quickly flatten out and lose their cushioning ability.
Ideally, the cover material of a wheelchair cushion should be water-resistant but also vapor-permeable so it retains some breathability. Nylon and poly/cotton blends meet these requirements, but vinyl should generally be avoided unless you have severe continence issues. If you aren’t concerned about water-resistance and prefer something very plush and warm, a fleece-covered cushion can be a good option. Wheelchair cushion covers should also be removable and machine-washable for the easiest care.
Wheelchair cushions vary in thickness, with most measuring between 1 and 5 inches high. Taller cushions can make it easier to reach counters and other raised surfaces, but can also make it more difficult to fit under desks and tables. They may also feel unstable to some, especially those lacking in upper-body strength. On the other hand, if a cushion is too thin, it may not be comfortable enough, especially for heavy users.
How much you can expect to spend on a wheelchair cushion
Most wheelchair cushions cost between $20-$60. However, if you need a specialty cushion, such as an anti-thrust cushion or one with a pommel, you should expect to spend between $65-$200.
Wheelchair cushion FAQ
How often should I replace my wheelchair cushion?
A. If you purchase a quality wheelchair cushion, it should last anywhere from two to four years before it needs to be replaced. Those made with poly-fill and lesser-quality materials may have to be replaced in as little as six months to one year.
At what weight should I consider a bariatric cushion?
A. While all wheelchair cushions are designed to handle different amounts of weights, it is generally recommended to consider a bariatric cushion if you weigh over 250 pounds.
What is the best wheelchair cushion to buy?
Top wheelchair cushion
What you need to know: Those who tend to get hot in their chair will appreciate this cushion, which combines gel-infused foam with a ventilated design to keep you cool.
What you’ll love: It retains its shape well through plenty of use, and it is OEKO-TEX-certified as free from harmful chemicals.
What you should consider: The included cover is not waterproof.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top wheelchair cushion for the money
What you need to know: This cushion combines high-density foam with a gel bladder to provide both support and pressure relief.
What you’ll love: The non-slip bottom does a good job of keeping it in place. It features a handle too, which makes it convenient to carry and move between chairs.
What you should consider: Some users complain that it is too firm.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Made with four layers of foam and a gel core, this cushion will keep you comfortable all day long.
What you’ll love: It comes in three sizes, so there is one to fit almost any wheelchair, and it includes a 60-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied for any reason. Also, the cover features a waterproof layer to safeguard the foam.
What you should consider: The gel can move around as you shift your weight, which some find annoying.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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