Wheelchair Cushion Guide

Wheelchair cushions are among the most affordable life-assist items, but they’re one of the most important.

Cushions can have enormous benefits for wheelchair users in terms of health and comfort, but it’s crucial to select the type, style, and model that best suits each user’s needs.

Wheelchair Cushion Guide

Anyone who spends most of their time sitting in a wheelchair or a geriatric chair will appreciate the comfort and support that a good cushion provides. But comfort is only part of the picture.

Good wheelchair cushions can also provide important postural support and make movement and transfers easier. Most importantly, cushions can redistribute the user’s weight to prevent the development of pressure sores.

There’s no single style, brand, or model of wheelchair cushion that’s best for everyone, so it’s a good idea to do some research before buying.

Wheelchair cushions can be divided into three broad categories based on the material from which they’re made.

Each one excels in some areas and performs less strongly in others, so understanding the benefits of each type is the first step toward getting the one that will serve you best.

Guide Content

Foam cushions

Foam Wheelchair Cushion

Foam cushions: Foam is the most commonly used material for wheelchair cushions, and it offers many benefits: it’s lightweight, flexible, versatile, comfortable, and affordable.

Foam cushions absorb impact well and can make going over bumps more comfortable, but they’re not particularly effective at absorbing vibrations like those you’d experience when riding in a car.

Foam has a springy texture and is highly compressible, indenting when pressure is applied. Cushions may be made of standard foam, which springs back as soon as pressure is removed, or viscoelastic or memory foam, which maintains the shape of the indent for some time before springing back.

On the down side, foam cushions tend to be hot and generally need to be covered to protect them from moisture, which can damage them. They also have a somewhat shorter usable life than noncompressible cushions and generally need to be replaced every two to five years.

Foam cushions are available in a very wide variety of sizes, shapes, and styles, and the foam used may vary considerably in stiffness and density. It’s important to get the right type of foam for the task; for example, the foam used for mattresses isn’t suitable for use as a cushion because it’s generally too soft to provide adequate support and comfort when sitting.

Our Picks

The Memory Foam Contoured Seat & Back Cushion by Medipaq® is one of the most popular and well-reviewed foam wheelchair cushions. Made of premium quality 4-lb. viscoelastic memory foam that’s guaranteed to keep its shape for 20 years, this cushion is soft to the touch but provides firm support. It’s hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial for comfort and safety, and comes with a washable cover. Its molded shape got high marks from users, who said it effectively reduced leg and back pain and made sitting for long periods significantly more comfortable. With a price of under £15, this cushion is a top pick.

Medipaq® The Memory Foam Contoured Seat & Back Cushion - Reduce Back Ache, Improve Posture!

£21.89 £39.99
3 new from £21.89
Amazon Amazon.co.uk
Last update was in: September 27, 2018 6:30 pm

Another well regarded foam cushion is Motionperformance Essentials’ White Donut Shaped Memory Foam Comfort Pressure Relief Ring Cushion. This round memory foam cushion distributes weight evenly to reduce pressure while sitting, and it helps the user maintain correct sitting posture. It’s suitable for use in a wheelchair, a standard chair, or a car, and it comes with a washable cotton cover. This cushion is firm enough to provide good support and stand up to constant use. Priced at about £17, it’s a great choice and a good buy.

Motionperformance Essentials White Donut Shaped Memory Foam Comfort Pressure Relief Ring Cushion

£12.99 £16.99
2 new from £12.99
Amazon Amazon.co.uk
Last update was in: September 27, 2018 6:30 pm

The NRS Healthcare Reflect Castellated Visco Elastic Memory Foam Cushion is an excellent choice for users who are at high risk of developing pressure ulcers. Its castellated memory foam top layer combines with a high density foam base to provide maximum comfort and support while redistributing weight to prevent pressure points. It comes with a washable waterproof stretch cover that’s vapor-permeable for coolness and breatheability, and it doesn’t hold dampness or odors. Its price of about £47 makes it a premium option, but for those who spend many hours a day in a wheelchair or geriatric day chair it can be an excellent choice.

NRS Healthcare Reflect Castellated Memory Foam Cushion – Pressure Care (Eligible for VAT relief in the UK)

£29.73 £51.74
2 new from £29.73 Free shipping
Amazon Amazon.co.uk
Last update was in: September 27, 2018 6:30 pm

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Gel and fluid cushions

Wheelchair Cushion Gel

Gel and fluid cushions: Gels and fluids function quite differently from foam. They displace rather than compress when pressure is applied, and gel or fluid must be encased in a nonpermeable cover.

They’re heavier and more rubber-like than foam and don’t conform as readily to the shape of the body, so gel or fluid cushions often incorporate foam to increase comfort. Gel cushions may include a contoured or compressible foam base or may sandwich the gel between top and bottom foam layers to make the cushion conform better to the user’s shape.

Gel and fluid cushions are particularly good at preventing heat build-up and they readily absorb vibrations, but they’re inferior to foam when it comes to minimizing the impact of bumps.

This type of cushion generally requires little in the way of maintenance and tends to have a relatively long usable life.

Our Picks

The Forever Comfy Gel Cushion is a popular and well-reviewed model that provides firm yet comfortable support. The gel layer is sandwiched between two layers of foam, which protect the body from the impact of hard seats and surfaces while the gel moves with the user to ensure constant support. Though it’s sized to fit wheelchairs, it can be used in regular chair or in the car as well. This cushion, which comes with a fleece-topped washable zippered cover, offers a lot for it’s price of less than £13.

Forever Comfy Gel Cushion

£20.19
3 new from £20.19
Amazon Amazon.co.uk
Last update was in: September 27, 2018 6:30 pm

The 66Fit Sitting/Wheelchair Gel Cushion features a “gel bag” between layers of polyurethane foam to keep the user cool and comfortable. This cushion is designed for pressure relief in either standard chairs or wheelchairs and is sized to fit well in either. It’s a popular model that’s exceptionally well reviewed, with kudos from all types of purchasers, from wheelchair users to online gamers who spend long hours at a computer station. At a price of about £22, this cushion is a good buy.

66Fit Sitting/Wheelchair Gel Cushion - Blue/White, 40 X 45 X 7 cm

£39.00
1 new from £39.00
Amazon Amazon.co.uk
Last update was in: September 27, 2018 6:30 pm

The Love Home Cool Gel Foam Coccyx Seat Cushion uses a combination of gel and vented, textured foam to create a seat that stays cool even after many consecutive hours of use. Its 18″ by 16″ size fits well in wheelchairs but the cushion is portable and can be used of sofas, standard chairs, or in cars as well. It quickly comforms to the shape of the body and distributes weight evenly, eliminating pressure points. With a price of just under £50 it’s a step up in the gel cushion line, but its combination of gel and high density polyurethane foam, water-resistant cover, and skid-proof shield bottom make it a popular and effective choice.

Love Home Cool Gel Foam Coccyx Seat Cushion - Cool Gel & High Density Polyurethane Foam Combined Covered With Water-resistant...

Amazon Amazon.co.uk
Last update was in: September 27, 2018 6:30 pm

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Air Cushions

Wheelchair Air Cushions

Air cushions: These are the most adaptable type of wheelchair cushions, because their relative stiffness is infinitely adjustable by simply adding to or reducing the degree of inflation. Like foam, air is highly compressible and tends to conform to the body, though the amount of inflation and the material and shape of the cushion container plays an important role in conformability.

Air cushions generally dissipate heat well, and if properly inflated will absorb both vibrations and bumps. Air cushions are lightweight and very portable, which can make them a good choice for people who travel.

They must be well maintained to prevent leaks and regularly checked to ensure that they’re properly inflated; without enough air they’ll be too soft and won’t provide adequate support, and too much air will make them stiff and potentially irritating to the skin.

Our Picks

The 15″ Inflatable Ring Cushion by Dioud is an excellent and affordable option in inflatable wheelchair cushions. This donut-shaped cushion is made of soft, durable rubber that can support up to 330 pounds. It’s puncture and leak resistant, has no odor, and conforms to the shape of the body for superior cushioning. It comes complete with a hypoallergenic synthetic flannel cover for convenience. The air pump that’s included with this cushion ensures that it can be inflated quickly and easily. With outstanding customer reviews and a price of about £14, this cushion is a great buy.

Takit C37 - 15" Inflatable Ring Cushion - Comfortable Medical Pillow for Haemorrhoid Pain, Bed Sores, Coccyx & Tailbone Pain,...

£13.90 £25.10
1 new from £13.90 Free shipping
Amazon Amazon.co.uk
Last update was in: September 27, 2018 6:30 pm

The PostureLite Inflatable Lumbar Wheelchair Seat Chair Cushion Pillow by Betterlife, priced at about £16, is also a popular customer pick. It’s rectangular rather than round, and offers outstanding postural support to the pelvic area. Its soft velour covering has a luxury feel and a once-touch inflation adjustment button makes it possible to completely customize the level of support. It’s lightweight and extremely portable, usable in wheelchairs, standard home seating, or on trains or planes. If you need an adjustable-support seat that’s light weight, transportable, and can go where you go, this could be the right model for you.

 

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