Parentgiving offers wheelchair cushions and wheelchair pads that can dramatically increase both support and comfort. Sitting for extended periods can cause discomfort and pain, straining the head, neck and lower back. The stock cushioning on a wheelchair may not provide adequate support, especially for those with spinal ailments.
Fortunately, cushions and pads can dramatically aid these problems, and both are available in a variety of models. For example, back cushions are available in heavy fleece, egg-crate and temperature-sensitive memory foam, which conforms to body shapes and adds support to a wheelchair. Contoured lumbar pillows are also available for those who need lower back support.
Seat cushions have even more options, including a gel bladder with a removable and replaceable cover; cushions that sandwich gel between two layers of foam; cushions that are inflatable; and all-foam models. The additional support can help combat pressure ulcers and other problems associated with sitting for long periods of time.
Seat cushions also come in different thicknesses, with some offering up to 3 inches of support. Many have a non-skid bottom surface, to help avoid slipping accidents, and are waterproof and fire retardant. Some models offer a cover — different colors are available — that can be removed for washing.
Padding is another option that can make a wheelchair more comfortable. For example, sheepskin made of heavy wool is available for seat and arm rest pads. Foam is another option. Some pads also come with an incontinence barrier to avoid stains. Wheelchair lap cushions are also available, which provide support and additional safety while increasing positioning options. Lap cushions are often made of vinyl, making them easy to spray and clean.
Wheelchair cushions and wheelchair pads come in many different shapes, sizes and materials, making is simple to find the most relaxing and comfortable wheelchair configuration.
Choosing the Best
A wheelchair can give you back a sense of mobility and allow you to maintain important social ties and interests outside of your home. To make a wheelchair work best for you a wheelchair cushion or pad is an essential accessory. At the minimum a wheelchair pad will evenly distribute your weight and cushion you from vibrations and any bumps along the way when the wheelchair is moving. You might want it for comfort but you could also need it for a variety of health reasons. A supportive wheelchair cushion can put your back and hips in the correct alignment to avoid back pain a specialized wheelchair pad can serve to prevent pressure sores&mdashthe same kind of skin ulcers that you&rsquore at risk for when you&rsquore in any one position for a long stretch of time and pressure is exerted over bony areas irritating the overlying skin. These sores often start as red areas on the skin surface but can quickly advance to serious ulcerations if you are prone to skin breakdown.
The right wheelchair seat cushion for you depends on your unique needs and that is how you should go about choosing the material your wheelchair pad is constructed from.
Wheelchair cushions are available in a variety of materials and at a very wide range of prices from a lightweight and inexpensive foam to a high tech air-cell and/or gel based state-of-the-art pad.
Air-filled gel-filled or a combination of these materials (some with foam as well) are good options for people who sit in their wheelchair for long stretches and are at higher risk of developing pressure ulcers. These designs are meant to allow bony prominences to float and avoid repeated contact with a hard wheelchair seat. The gel or air cells are usually in plastic casings and serve to reduce the pressure on your tailbone and other &ldquosit bones.&rdquo Read product descriptions to see how effective the wheelchair seat cushion you&rsquore considering is at helping you avoid pressure sores.
A top choice in this category is the  Roho AirLite Cushion made with 2&rdquo high individual air cells for a comfortable counter pressure environment. The air cells allow adequate ventilation and the durable neoprene material is flame retardant and helps resist damage from incontinence as well as stains from skin care products.
Another option is the Drive Medical Gel Foam Wheelchair Seat Cushion constructed with a gel bladder surrounded by high-density foam to mold comfortably to your body for support and comfort.
If you need a lighter weight cushion the Wheelchair Gel Cushion is a low profile pad for users on the move. The 5/8&rdquo dry polymer pad is sealed to a 5/8&rdquo polyfoam cushion to create a thin lightweight pad for people who do foot propelling and don&rsquot want drag from a heavy cushion.
For a thicker pad there&rsquos the 3&rdquo thick SimplX GFST Microfiber Wheelchair Cushion with gel and foam construction and covered with Soft Touch microfiber suede-feel fabric that is cooler in summer and warmer in winter to reduce chafing and skin irritation.
As you compare the many designs available narrow down your search with these other important criteria. The cushion should have a breathable and easy to clean covering&mdashone that can either be wiped down without being removed or easily removed and machine washed. Another factor to consider is the weight of the wheelchair pad. For self-propelled wheelchairs you may want to add the lightest weight possible so that the pad doesn&rsquot make it harder to wheel. Thickness is also a consideration&mdashyou&rsquoll find pads anywhere from one to four inches thick and you&rsquoll need to balance the comfort of a thicker pad with its added weight. One final shopping pointer: You must know the seat size of your wheelchair and choose a wheelchair cushion that will fit it&mdashbe sure it is not too big or too small.