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Searching For The Perfect Wheelchair Cushion

Trying to decide on a new cushion gives most users a wonderful opportunity to indulge in some serious head scratching. The experience also lends itself well to a bit of confusion and some intense anxiety. Presently there are a large number of cushions being offered up. Of course these cushions come in every conceivable shape, size, and form. While it is impossible to answer the age-old question of “which cushion is the best one”, it is possible to at least set you on the right path toward that perfect cushion.

There are some prerequisites that you should take care of before deciding on which cushion to lay your hard earned and your butt down on. First, familiarize yourself with some of the products that are available. Get on the Internet and just browse the cushion manufacturers pages. Try to stick with manufacturers rather than retailers. The manufacturers information is better, as long as you ignore the accompanying hype. Take note of the different materials the cushions are made of, the different shapes and contours, cushion weight and types of covers. Start to formulate some thoughts on which types might work for you.

Next, start thinking about some of those hidden booby traps that you may roll onto. If you have limited use of your arms and need to be able to move the cushion during transfers, or into a car, or from one chair to another then stay away from heavy cushions. Realize that some cushions require more maintenance than others. Some need to be pumped up with air, others need to be pounded into shape regularly, while some are just sit and go. How much maintenance are you willing and able to deal with? If incontinence is a problem, make sure that an incontinence cushion cover is available and that the cushion and cover are washable. If you are just making it under desks and tables in your wheelchair, or if you don't like sitting up high, than stay away from those high cushions. You may have to adjust your wheelchair seat height if you choose one of these. If possible talk to other cushion users. Find out what they like and dislike about their cushions. How it holds up to daily use and how easy it is to live with.

Once you finish all your homework you're ready to move on to the next step. Find some professional help. Try to locate a facility in your area that has a seating clinic or a seating and mobility clinic with experience in your particular type of disability. If you are a sixty year old quadriplegic you may not be well served by the seating clinic at the local children's hospital. Your cushion is an extremely important piece of equipment; it is worth the trip to a clinic. While we're on clinics, prior to making an appointment, ask if the clinic has pressure-mapping equipment. Pressure mapping equipment makes it possible for you to see a visualization of the pressure between you and your cushion. It's really great! You can try different cushions and see how they handle pressure. You can move around on the cushions and see where the pressure goes. You can also do your pressure lifts and shifts and see if they really eliminate pressure. It is a great tool and a super learning experience.

Realize that seating is more than getting something soft under your butt. It's also about your posture and how you are positioned in the chair. Roll in front of a mirror; decide what you don't like about your posture. Is your trunk leaning to one side? Is one hip lower than the other? Are your legs to far apart or to close together? Do you tend to slouch while sitting? These are the types of things you and the clinic team will be looking for. Write them down, also make some notes about what you do and don't like about your present cushion, along with information on any pressure sores you have had. Take your notes to the clinic with you and read or give them to the staff there. The seating specialist can see and even touch you, but they cannot get inside of your head unless you help them. The notes will help them to help you. Make your wishes, thoughts, and ideas known to the clinic staff.

Ziggi Landsman
www.usatechguide.org