ADHD: A Parenting Guide

Your Options For Comfortable Wheelchair Seating

One of the most important parts of a wheelchair is the seat. If you have limited mobility, you'll get tired and sore if you sit in a wheelchair for very long. Wheelchairs are usually made with sling seats made from canvas or vinyl. While the basic seat is comfortable for short periods, if you plan to be in your chair all day, you'll probably need something a little softer. Here are some options to consider.

Gel Pads

You can buy a pad for your wheelchair that is made from a gel material that makes sitting more comfortable. Some gel cushions are a combination of foam and gel so they are more affordable and offer the most support. The best gel pads have channels in them that allow for even distribution of pressure while you sit. If the cushion doesn't have individual channels, the gel can spread to the sides and fail to offer the support you need. You'll probably have to knead the pad every day to redistribute the gel so it is spread evenly through the cushion. One drawback of gel cushions is that they are very heavy, and they may be difficult for you to move around on your own. If the cushion is punctured or ripped, the gel makes a big mess, so you have to be careful that the cushion doesn't get pinched by your wheelchair.

Foam Cushions

Foam cushions are inexpensive and come in various degrees of thickness so you get the support you need. You can choose from a solid foam block, egg crate foam, or memory foam. The problem with foam is that it compresses under your weight. A cushion that is only a couple of inches thick may not offer much support, especially if you are a heavy person. Therefore, you probably want to buy a foam cushion that is thicker than you might think you need. Over time, the foam will lose its ability to spring back into shape, so you'll need to replace a foam cushion more often than the more expensive options.

Air Cushions

You can buy an inexpensive air cushion that's good to use if you are able to shift positions on your own. As you move in the chair, the air in the cushion moves too, so there are no pressure points while you sit. If you aren't able to move your body around so you can shift your weight, then a more expensive air cushion would be best. These are made with individual cells that slowly inflate and deflate. This keeps pressure distributed so there is less risk of developing a pressure sore when you sit in your wheelchair for a long time. One problem with air cushions is the risk of puncture and air leakage. For that reason, you may want to have more than one cushion so you'll always have one on hand if your cushion is damaged.

If you need to use your wheelchair for work or if you are active and plan to stay in your chair all day, you may want to work with your doctor or physical therapist to find the ideal type of wheelchair seat that will keep you comfortable and keep pressure sores away. Remember the cushions will wear down eventually and need to be replaced. Even the original canvas sling will get loose and sag. That will affect how well the cushion you choose supports your weight. So in addition to replacing the cushion when needed, be sure to replace the original wheelchair sling seat when it starts to sag.

For more information, contact Southwest Medical & Rehab or a similarly company.