Types of Wheel Chair Seat Cushions
There are several types of wheel chair seat cushions. Some of the most popular are foam, gel, air, and honeycomb cushions. Foam cushions are among the more frequently used, because they are affordable, lightweight and require little maintenance. In addition, some of them may be custom-shaped for further comfort. The downside is that foam wheel chair seat cushions tend to compress very easily, thus wearing out quicker. As a result, the low cost may be offset by the need of having to have them replaced.
Others are made with a foam base and a gel layer, such as the Gel Supreme wheelchair seat cushion by Invacare Supply Group; they are labeled accordingly as gel wheel chair seat cushions. This type of cushion provides great support, comfort and flexibility. Gel seat cushions are very good at absorbing heat, but not so much at absorbing shock. If the user commonly bumps up and down curbs, for example, then a gel cushion will not help them to withstand that type of impact. Moreover, they weigh more and have a tendency to bottom out. Bottoming out takes place when the user pushes the gel out with their weight. That and other issues can be fixed with some maintenance techniques. For instance, kneading the gel cushion once daily to keep the fluid movable and well distributed. Likewise, some gel seat cushions include patching kits and patches to mend gel leaks, but that may be to no avail if the leak is at a seam.
Air seat cushions like the Roho Group AirLite are much better absorbing shock, while at the same time supplying lateral stability. Furthermore, they are lightweight and specially designed to evenly distribute pressure for proper relief of the pressure points of the skin. Air wheel chair cushions are very resistant but need quite a bit of maintenance, such as having to constantly inflate them to keep balanced pressure.
Honeycomb cushions are manufactured with thermoplastic urethane, a fabric that both absorbs shock very well and impedes bottoming out. Also, they steadily shift weight and improve air flow for to make for a cool and comfortable wheel chair cushion. All of this is achieved thanks to the cushion’s structure, which resembles beehive cells. However, honeycomb seat cushions are usually the most expensive kind, and may lose their shock-absorbing properties over time.