Using a wheelchair can be a big change in your life. For many reasons. In the hospital or rehab center you learn the basics and daily care but its not until you get home and put it all into practice that the reality sets in.
Studies have shown that approximately 20 to 30 percent of wheelchair users, or people with disabilities that sit for long periods of time, are at risk of developing pressure sores in the first couple of years. Pressure sores are serious and can be life-threatening.
Pressure sores are created when the weight of sitting squeezes blood vessels and reduces blood flow to skin or muscles. Sometimes the flow is reduced to the point that tissue is starved of oxygen and actually dies. The result is skin breakdown and eruption of a wound that can be very painful and usually always difficult to treat.
This is why choosing the right cushion is critical. Especially if you are a heavier person! The key is to eliminate pressure providing not only comfort, but safety. Eliminating pressure will reduce the risk of blood flow reduction. In the past this has actually been quite a difficult task.
But modern technology has improved and there is good news for wheelchair users and anyone sitting for long periods.
There are different technologies on the market and what might work for one person may not necessarily work for another. We are all different and weight, strength, condition, lifestyle, activity levels and type of wheelchair can all be factors that come to play in your situation.
One of the earliest technologies was memory foam. This had some inherent problems in so much as it compressed and became less comfortable the longer you sat on it. It also accumulated heat and became hot and sweaty to sit on. And the pressure problem was never solved.
Air chamber cushions were invented and seemed to be the life saver that everyone was looking for. There are some people who love them though and they definitely proved better than what existed previously. However, they also had inherent problems. Apart from the problems of going flat or losing air, the short coming with air chamber cushions is that they still work under the same principle of physics as foam. It’s called the “spring constant law”. Which means that when you sit on the cushion the weight compresses the cushion and it pushes back at an equal and opposite reaction. This is the same for all traditional cushioning technologies. So, we are back to the same old problem of pressure!
So, the search was on for a cushion that would not push back! Like the light bulb it seemed impossible and years went by without any significant progress. New products coming on the market were simply a re-hash of the same old technologies with the same old short comings.
Then there was a breakthrough!
About twenty years ago two inventor brothers got together and combined their skills to see if they could come up with something that really worked and eliminated the problem of pressure. One was an aerospace materials engineer and the other was a mechanical engineer. The perfect combination really. If anyone was going to invent a solution it was these guys.
Their first challenge was actually to invent a critical care hospital mattress that could be used in burn wards, for coma patients and people who had pressure sores. These serious conditions required some serious pressure relief and provision of high levels of comfort and safety. After countless attempts and many different approaches, they finally came up with “column buckling”. This was the breakthrough that everyone was looking for. It became a huge success and patients all over the world are now recovering on “column buckling” mattresses. The technology has now been transferred into residential mattresses and into cushions – both general purpose and medical/therapeutic and wheelchair cushions. The problem of pressure has been virtually eliminated and users can sit for long periods in comfort and safety.
How do they work?
The cushions are made of a space-age co-polymer which is very soft and stretchy. The structure is a honey comb like diamond pattern with connected walls of gelatinous material. When the user sits on the cushion their weight buckles the soft columnar walls. As they buckle the weight is spread to the next columnar wall. And so on. In a nutshell what this means is that the weight is spread sideways, out and away from the body, rather than back up against it. Pressure eliminated, problem solved.
Here is a link to a video explaining how it works:
For wheelchair users this has been a godsend! People who have developed pressures sores using other cushions have made the change and have found the column buckling cushions even aid the healing process in some situations.
They can be purchased from www.miraclecushion.com and are very affordable compared to pricey air chamber cushions. They are highly durable and never take a compression set (meaning they never get a “dent”) and last for many years without any maintenance being required. Other than maybe a wash and a replacement fabric cover.
If you need a cushion that gives you super comfort and high levels of safety, then a column buckling cushion might just be the best wheelchair cushion for you. The company offers a full return policy that if you are not happy with your choice, and it is returned in a clean, new, resalable condition you can simply return it for a refund.
Before making any wheelchair cushion purchase you owe it to yourself to check one out. It could mean the difference between happy comfort and dealing with pain or even the misery of serious pressure sores.