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Seniors Mobility AidsWheelchairs

4 Considerations in Choosing the Best Gel Wheelchair Cushion

Written by GrigorinaLoa
Last Updated :
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I was recently considering how to choose the best gel chair cushion after noticing wear on my grandmother’s current one.

My grandmother started complaining of soreness, so I had to look for a better chair cushion with superior comfort.

I found some gel seat cushion options on the internet and sought to try them. Here is the process I took to give my grandmother a better quality of life.

Key Takeaways

  • Gel cushions enhance comfort for wheelchair users.
  • Gel cushions are not one-size-fits-all, so wheelchair users must find the perfect one for their needs.
  • Medicare does offer coverage for wheelchair cushions.

Why Use a Gel Wheelchair Cushion?

BusinessWire states 61 million Americans live with mobility issues, and 13.7% experience serious movement difficulties. (1)

Many individuals depend on mobility aids like wheelchairs to move around independently. 

While the standard top rated wheelchairs come with cushions to sit on, some users may need extra comfort.

The best gel chair cushion is important because its ergonomic design is suitable for individuals who sit for prolonged periods of time.

Gel seat cushions with a gel layer protect skin from pressure sores by acting as a shock absorber to vibrations the chair encounters on the ground.

How to choose the best gel wheelchair cushion

Moreover, a 2018 study found that gel cushions help reduce chronic pain for occupational drivers. (2)

Here is a YouTube video from SpinalCordInjuriesAU on choosing wheelchair cushions

4 Considerations When Selecting Gel Cushions

1. Size of Chair Seat

When choosing the best gel cushion, you want one that matches the seat’s dimensions.

A smaller cushion may not offer enough comfort since space around the area will leave the user’s seating unbalanced.

On the other hand, an oversized gel cushion will warrant folding, causing discomfort.

It will help if you take the measurements beforehand to ensure perfect wheelchair seating.

2. Gel Cushion Height

Chair cushions are usually two or three inches thick. However, the cushion’s thickness will depend on the user’s positioning needs.

You want to avoid a gel cushion that limits keeping your feet flat on the ground or prevents fitting under a table.

A cushion adds additional height to the mobility device and is an essential factor to consider before purchasing.

3. Cushion Covers

While most gel cushions come with covers, it is essential to ensure that the surface meets the user’s comfort preferences.

Moreover, since you will spend most of your time sitting, note that sweating is inevitable.

You want a gel cushion cover that is breathable and waterproof to avoid seepage.

You will also want a machine-washable cover or one that you can clean using water and mild detergent.

4. Cushion Weight

While the gel cushion will help you remain comfortable, note that it has weight.

This weight will increase the overall wheelchair weight and may affect self-propulsion.

If a lightweight chair user lives alone, this might be a challenge to overcome, warranting the need for a caregiver.

The chair will make it challenging to place or remove the cushion from the chair.

Medicare’s Role in Gel Cushion Costs?

Medicare is a federal program with two insurance types, medical and hospital. Medical insurance is usually defined as Part B; hospital insurance falls under Part A. (3)

Wheelchair gel cushions fall under the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) category, which is covered in Part B.

Medicare usually covers 80% of the cushion costs, and you must pay the remaining 20%.

While Medicare would cover the wheelchair gel cushion cost, specific requirements exist:

You must have a physical therapist deem the accessory as a medical necessity to help the healing process.

Additionally, Medicare will only offer coverage if you have or are experiencing pressure sores.

Also, if you experience numbness in the area that comes into contact with the chair, the program can cover the cost of the gel cushion.

What About Gel Cushion Weight Limits?

Since wheelchair users have different body types, finding the perfect cushion to meet one’s needs can be challenging.

Gel cushions usually support up to 250 pounds of body weight, which can pose significant comfort challenges for people with larger bodies.

While buying a thick cushion can seem to be the better option, note that you will squash the gel material.

This action creates an uneven weight and pressure distribution across the seat, creating more back problems.

You might consider using bariatric cushions that fit your wheelchair and meet your comfort preferences.

Most gel cushion manufacturers will specify their product’s weight capacity to help you make an informed buying decision.

Benefits of Selecting an Excellent Cushion

1. Seat Upgrade

Besides comfort, a gel cushion seat will add an aesthetic upgrade to your wheelchair.

Moreover, you can have a pair of stylistic removable covers to improve the traditional wheelchair look.

2. Enhances Posture

A properly fitting ergonomic cushion can help prevent poor posture and support proper posture.

The gel seat cushion helps prevent excess weight on your ischial tuberosities due to its optimal pressure redistribution.

Here is a YouTube video from AskDoctorJo on how seat cushions help maintain a healthy posture.

FAQs

How long do gel cushions last?

According to Karman Healthcare, healthcare professionals advise wheelchair users to change their cushions every three years.
You should replace the gel cushion before it is worn out. (4)

Should cushions be used in a wheelchair?

There is no fixed rule stating that you must use a chair cushion. It depends on your comfort preferences and pain relief needs.
These wheelchair cushions for pressure relief provide comfort, regulate body temperature, and prevent pressure ulcers.

Which cushion filling is best?

Various types of chair cushions exist to meet different chair user needs. It is best to consult your physical therapist on the best cushion for your needs.

How thick should a cushion be?

The ideal chair cushion thickness is two to three inches. However, the cushion’s height can vary depending on the wheelchair user’s needs.

The issue of how to choose the best gel chair cushion will cross your mind if you want to enhance your chair’s comfort.

With most people spending extended periods in wheelchairs, comfort becomes crucial.

You can make an informed buying decision with the above gel seat cushion considerations.

Moreover, you know that Medicare can cover the gel seat cushion costs, so check your eligibility.

How to choose the best gel wheelchair cushion

What do you think? Are these considerations enough to choose the best gel wheelchair cushion? Let me know if you have anything more to add to it!

Resources

  • 1. North America Wheelchair Market Report 2021 – ResearchAndMarkets.com [Internet]. www.businesswire.com. 2021. Available from: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210813005309/en/North-America-Wheelchair-Market-Report-2021—ResearchAndMarkets.com
  • ‌2. Lee JW, Lim Y-H, Won YH, Kim DH. Effect of gel seat cushion on chronic low back pain in occupational drivers. Medicine. 2018;97:e12598.
  • 3. What Medicare Covers | Medicare [Internet]. Medicare.gov. 2000. Available from: https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers
  • ‌4. When to Replace your Wheelchair Cushion [Internet]. Karman® Wheelchairs. [cited 2022 Nov 25]. Available from: https://www.karmanhealthcare.com/when-to-replace-wheelchair-cushion/

About Author

GrigorinaLoa
Grigorina discovered that writing is her vocation early in her school years. Since then, she's taken part in several literary contests. For the past three years, she's also been an ELS teacher, pouring her heart into showing children and adults how important English is for their future. She has a Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics, an ESL Teacher's degree, and a Master's degree in Accounting. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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