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Like sitting on a cloud

November 2, 2015
by Kathleen Mears
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Because I have been sitting all day for so many years, I forget how tiring it can be. When I was able to stand and do my own personal care I used to dance in place at the sink, which helped me loosen up. Since I am not able to stand like that anymore, stretching is more difficult.

Five years ago—two years after I got my present power chair—I noticed the seat cushion had compressed quite a bit. It was a different type of cushion and did not seem very resilient. I felt it needed the extra oomph of a one-inch piece of memory foam placed on top of it.

I searched for a one-inch memory foam cushion but no company manufactured one. So I googled "thin wheelchair cushion," which did not find many choices, but I checked them and found a 5/8-inch-thick 18" x 16" gel cushion that cost $100. It was a bit expensive, but I ordered it. When it arrived we unzipped the black cover and inside it looked like lemon Jell-O-molded cubes encased in clear gel.  When I sat on the cushion, it raised me just high enough to relieve the pressure on my hip bones and the backs of my thighs.

That summer I rode for several hours to attend a family reunion, stayed for several hours and returned without a sore back or legs. It was great. Two years later, however, that cushion became flattened on one side. I ordered a slightly larger 18" x 18" cushion from the same company, which cost $200. Back then I could afford the expense and knew the cushion would improve my sitting experience.

A few months ago I realized my three-year-old gel cushion was flattening out. Since I have to be more frugal now, I did not just up and reorder it. But when an RN friend visited recently, she saw me wincing when the aides took my feet off my power chair's foot rests. She told me my power chair's seat was compressed, which was putting more pressure on my legs and feet, I knew I had to do something.

Online I found a one-inch-thick 18" x 16" gel cushion encased in memory foam made by the same company for less than $100. I am hoping that the memory foam help it last a bit longer.

The cushion arrived and I was anxious to try it. But the aides were busy getting ready for lunch and I had to wait. After lunch they put it on my power chair; it felt like I was sitting on a cloud.

It is hard to believe that a flattened wheelchair seat cushion could cause me such discomfort. I am grateful that someone invented a thin gel cushion and added memory foam.



Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...