Investigation of the Lifespan for Wheelchair Cushions used on a Daily Basis
Rivard, David M.
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Wheelchair cushions function to mediate seating pressures and provide postural stability. For the majority of cushions used on average 12 hours daily, the cover and interior components degrade at varying rates while performance for their intended purposes diminishes resulting in an increased risk for skin health deterioration and inadequate postural support. While age and use are determinants of cushion degradation, additional factors or combinations of factors contribute to rate of wear. At present there is no validated metric whereby clinicians and users may asses cushion condition and replacement of a potentially worn cushion. A multiple phase collaborative research project conducted at the Shepherd Center is currently testing the functionality and degradation of wheel chair cushions. Preliminary visual assessments indicate that some cushions are used inadequately while others responded to postural deformities. Loaded contour depth analysis revealed that age and cushion construction alone are not significant predictors. A supplementary benefit from this study is the documentation of critical factors to cushion wear and failure; whereby, clinicians and users can be educated on proper care and preventative measures to reduce wear; whereby, optimizing health benefits for the user and possibly increasing the lifespan of the cushion.