Skin Protection Wheelchair Cushion
Static inflated wheelchair cushions are included in this classification. The inflated cushions can be good at distributing weight IF the inflation level is correct and it maintains that exact pressure. If on the other hand the cushion is over-inflated, the cushion will be too firm and it can apply excess pressure to the skin and tissue. Worse yet, if the cushion is under-inflated the user can bottom out. Even worse than being under-inflated, the cushion develops a leak. With just a tiny leak the cushion will be completely flat in just minutes. A flat cushion offers absolutely no protection, a very dangerous situation.
With either an under-inflated or flat air cushion the skin and tissue are compressed by the user’s weight under the pelvic bones. This cuts off circulation to the skin and tissue (capillary occlusion) which is exactly how pressure ulcers form.
Given that this type of cushion presents a great risk if it is under-inflated or flat, how can it be considered a skin protection cushion as the name implies? The fact is, this type of cushion can be a very dangerous cushion if not inflated properly. The user has no tools provided by the cushion manufacturer to alert them of potential danger.
The cushion manufacturers offer no warning device to tell the user if the cushion goes flat nor a gauge to tell the user how much air is in the cushion. One has to wonder why these cushion manufacturers don’t offer some type of warning device to alert the user to the danger and harm if the cushion goes flat.
It seems that a low pressure warning device should be an essential component of a simple static air cushion used by a paraplegic with no sensation in the posterior. What classification of user could be more at risk of developing a pressure ulcer that one who cannot feel if their air cushion goes flat and has no way of knowing if the cushion is low or flat?
Maybe a better name for this type of cushion would be a conditional skin protection cushion.