Preventing Pressure Ulcers: How to Test Your Wheelchair Cushion

There are so many wheelchair cushions out there today it can get a bit confusing on which one is the best for your residents.  You’ve got cushions made with eggcrate foam, memory foam, gel, air, water, sand, and everything in between.  As you know, for your residents who are already at risk for skin breakdown – they’re usually the ones who like to sit up for hours on end – a proper pressure reduction cushion is a must have or you’ll be trying to heal a wound next.

Even worse, several cushion manufacturers have gotten themselves approved as the exclusive vendors for a few of the larger nursing home chains.  This is due to financial reasons.  They provide a few clinical studies and soon they are touted as the new end-all, be-all when it comes to pressure ulcer prevention in the wheelchair seat.  And, boy, do these cushions cost a lot!  We’re talking $100 or more each.  You begin to wonder just how the nursing home company is making money with the high prices the facilities are paying.  But, hey!  You’ve got to pay for quality, right?  There’s just one problem – the wheelchair cushions suck!

Yep!  All the clinical studies in the world can’t make a hard cushion feel comfortable to your residents and save their butts from breakdown.  Luckily, I have a quick and easy test you can use to give you an idea of whether or not you got your money’s worth.  You only need 3 things:

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Take your keys and place them on the wheelchair cushion. Now, take yourself and sit down on the cushion.  If you can feel your keys, your wheelchair cushion is crap!  If you can’t feel your keys, then the cushion is doing it’s job – relieving pressure.  That’s the cushion that should go under your residents for pressure ulcer prevention.  Try it for yourself!

*Disclaimer – this is not an approved method to determine which cushion has the best pressure reduction.  There are no scientific studies I am aware of to support my theory – just a touch of common sense.  However, it has served me well for years.   Let me know what you think.

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