How To Choose Pressure Relief Cushions

23 Aug
By Maryanne Goff
Pressure relief cushions are an important tool for helping individuals required to sit in wheelchairs for long periods of time. They help to maintain the health of the skin by distributing pressure in a variety of ways. They also help give postural stability and prevent shear force.

Lack of circulation means that supply of nutrients and oxygen to the cells decreases. This in turn means that ulcers may form. Once these ulcers have formed, they may be hard to treat so it is better to prevent them. Shear force occurs when a part of the body tries to move but the surface of the skin remains fixed, pulling skin and tissue apart. This may happen when an individual slips forward in the chair.

Each and every individual will have different requirements when it comes to choosing a cushion. A clinical professional will be able to assist with making the right choice. Specific factors such as how much time is spent in a chair, how much the user moves around, stability of posture and nature of a disability must all be taken into consideration.

The wheelchair and cushion must work together. There are many sizes and depth of cushions available. The correct one has to be chosen to ensure that when the individual is sitting on the cushion, the height is correct in relation to the armrests and the back of the chair.

Different materials such as gel, foam, air and water are used in these products. This is because they are able to conform to the shape of the body, distributing weight and allowing for optimum blood flow. They all have this in common but when it comes to cost, weight, heat conduction and stability there are different advantages and disadvantages.

A foam cushion comes in many densities and may be cross cut or contoured to allow for greater conformity to body shape and movement. Memory foam models the shape of the body better than ordinary foam. Foam is quite inexpensive and easy to cut. This allows a therapist to experiment with shape, customizing a cushion for the needs of an individual. However, foam can become compressed and lose its shape quite easily.

Static air cushions use air-filled balloons or pathways for channeling the air. An air alternating cushion works with a pump that allows rows of air cells to inflate and deflate. The main drawback of an air cushion is that it requires regular maintenance to ensure the correct degree of inflation.

A gel cushion provides excellent weight distribution as it conforms to the shape of the body. It is very comfortable and it helps keep the surface temperature of the skin cool. A disadvantage is its weight as portability is important for users who frequently have to lift in and out of a wheelchair and a car.

The cost of pressure relief cushions can vary considerably, according to the materials with which they are made, covers, size and depth. It is worthwhile to purchase a product with proven performance over time. This may not be the cheapest option but durability, comfort and effectiveness should take precedence over cost.

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How To Choose Pressure Relief Cushions

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