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What Wheelchair Cushions are Top Rated for Preventing or Treating Pressure Sore?

For individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries or Alzheimer's disease, pressure ulcers caused from wheelchair use are a serious concern during rehabilitation and are the most common long-term secondary medical complication. That’s why multiple studies and surveys have been conducted in recently years about how wheelchair design—and more specifically, wheelchair cushion design—helps to mange and prevent this type of complication. Because almost all wheelchairs are marketed as “the best” for pressure reduction, the researchers wanted to provide useful information to occupational therapists that would help them distinguish between wheelchairs that were actually effective at doing this versus those that were not.

The studies suggested that the alternating pressure relief air cushion chair would provide the most pressure relief. The researchers used a computer pressure-mapping pad called Xsensor to determine and measure the patient’s pressure points on each of the three different types of cushions during the course of the study. The studies concluded that alternating pressure air cushion was in fact the most effective in relieving pressure on the seating surface for the patients, a conclusion that aligns with other research on the same question.

Prescribing an appropriate wheelchair cushion requires an occupational therapist to evaluate each individual separately. There is no “one size fits all” approach to preventing pressure ulcers. Instead, the studies offer a methodology for therapists to use in order to prescribe the best cushion for each patient and to monitor its effectiveness over time.
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