Characteristics of High Maintenance Static Air Cushions
Any static air cushion is considered high maintenance because they all have a tendency to leak. They must be pumped up when they are low on air and it is difficult if not impossible to inflate to a consistent correct air pressure. For example, the instruction manual for a popular static air cushion indicates that the air inflation of the cushion must be set so that the lowest bony prominence, usually the ischial tuberosity is one half to one inch from the wheelchair seat. The roho recommended method for measuring this distance is inserting two fingers under the ischial.
If air cushions have either too much or too little air inside, the user can be at immediate risk of developing a pressure sore, which can form in just a couple of hours.
The valve of the air cushion can also be the source of a leak if it is not closed completely. If the user or caregiver has arthritis it could be difficult to close the air valve. If the air cushion is not inflated to the correct pressure giving adequate support from bottoming out, the user is in danger of developing a pressure sore.
Air cushions must be repaired if they develop a leak. Some cushions come with repair kits and the manufacturers expect the end users to repair the cushions themselves. If the repairs are less than perfect the cushion will continue to leak. Add to this the fact that static air cushions in and of themselves cannot change pressure points to the posterior. The user must reposition or move around under their own power in order to change pressure distribution.
If this is not enough to worry about, consider the fact that constant unrelieved pressure is the number one cause of pressure sores. If the user cannot perform some sort of pressure relief, they risk developing pressure sores and pressure sores can form in just hours.
If you are reading this and you have ever had a pressure sore you know what I am talking about.