Before Investing in an Alternating Pressure Wheelchair Cushion, Read This.
An alternating wheelchair cushion is a substantial investment. It is extremely important to make an informed decision about which alternating wheelchair cushion you are going to purchase because this type of wheelchair cushion can affect your health and quality of life. An ineffective, poorly designed alternating wheelchair cushion can be a waste of money, and more importantly, can adversely affect your health. This blog post intends to provide the consumer with several tips to consider before purchasing an alternating wheelchair cushion and illustrates how Aquila Seating Systems are the only alternating wheelchair cushions that both provide fully automatic alternation and custom internal layouts.
Alternating wheelchair cushions are dynamic cushions because they move independently and automatically unlike static wheelchair cushions that cannot. Advanced alternating wheelchair cushions typically have two sets of air chambers, a pump which inflates the chambers back and forth, and a power source. These wheelchair cushions usually consist of air bladders and foam.
Most alternating wheelchair cushions use a rechargeable battery and others required direct connection to AC power. Most come in only standard sizes. The alternating wheelchair cushion is more complex and costs more than a static cushion to construct so you can expect the cost to be higher than a static cushion. The odd thing is that he dozen or so alternating cushions on the market range in price from $250 to $4300.
As you can imagine with the very low-cost alternating wheelchair cushions, you get what you pay for. Those inexpensive alternating cushions use mass produced components and are all constructed to be identical. There is absolutely no consideration for the client’s current pressure sores, sensitive areas, weight, or posture. These non-custom wheelchair cushions can end up causing pressure sores or making existing sores much worse because they are mass produced and pay no attention to the client’s individual needs or wants.
There are also higher priced alternating wheelchair cushions that offer no additional benefits than the mass-produced, low-cost alternating cushions but hold a much higher price tag.
Aside from the alternating wheelchair cushions produced by Aquila Corporation, most all the alternating cushions on the market are off-the-shelf, standard, mass produced cushions. They are made the same way, use the same internal layouts, and do not account for individual needs, wants, or existing pressure sores. These off-the-shelf cushions are not customized in any way. As such, the alternation applies pressure to all areas of the posterior, including to current pressure sores. Off-the-shelf wheelchair cushions are not built for individuals. Alternatively, each Aquila wheelchair cushion is custom fabricated for an individual and their needs and takes specific consideration for existing pressure sores or problem areas. Aquila Corporation centers the client in the construction of every cushion while providing advanced alternating technology that offloads under existing pressure sores or problem areas.
When you purchase an off-the-shelf wheelchair cushion, you must understand that there will be substantial pressure applied directly to your ischial and sacral areas as well as any existing pressure sore(s). That upward pressure can immediately cause the pressure sore to become worse leading to complications. Imagine sitting at least 8 hours per day with your body weight pressing an inflated bladder directly on to your pressure sore. That is a recipe for disaster. With any off-the-shelf alternating wheelchair cushion there is going to be pressure applied to areas most susceptible to being injured – as a direct consumer, you must be aware of this. You should also be aware of the alternatives to these off-the-shelf alternating wheelchair cushions. As a direct consumer, you might want to refocus your attention to alternating wheelchair cushions that are custom fabricated and center the client in the construction of each wheelchair cushion.
At Aquila Corporation we custom build each wheelchair cushion per the specific needs and physical conditions of each client. We configure the internal bladder layout, depth, and offloads to optimize positive outcomes. Additional options/accessories are also available to aid healing, for example, the client may choose to include an integrated fan (MCU) to help keep a current sore dry. We create the best possible wheelchair cushion for each individual client, and we have the clinical data to demonstrate our successes.
Beware of alternating wheelchair cushion companies that have been in business for many years but have yet to produce clinical studies, case reports, engineering awards, or articles written about their products in medical journals. If there were any clinical value to their alternating cushions, they would have at least one clinical study that shows favorable results. In doing your homework on any alternating wheelchair cushion, ask to see their clinical studies because this is typically the only proof of efficacy.
Be skeptical of companies that display a graphic on their website showing a simulation of pressure mapping. Real pressure mapping is done with a sophisticated scientific instrument and displays accurate interface pressure readings of the posterior. You can see, for example, a real pressure mapping video of our wheelchair cushion versus a Roho static cushion on our website home page. An animation made to look like pressure mapping is not legitimate and should be ignored.
Also be aware that the FDA does not evaluate wheelchair cushions or approve cushions for preventing or treating pressure sores. So, if you read a statement on a wheelchair cushion website implying FDA approval for treating and preventing pressure sores, it is false. While any cushion company can claim their cushions are the best, they must show medically valid, scientific proof to validate the statement. As the consumer, you need to ask these companies tough questions and request to see medically document evidence of their cushion healing pressure sores.
The reality is that Aquila Seating Systems are the only alternating wheelchair cushions that are custom fabricated, automatically alternate two sets of air bladders every 60 seconds, and have clinical studies, data and evidence to illustrate their effectiveness. Look no further than Aquila Corporation for alternating pressure wheelchair cushions that are built to the client’s specific pressure requirements and are recommended by physicians and therapists. Choose Aquila Corporation, choose to put yourself first.