Custom chair cushions might aid spinal cord injury patients

Wheelchair cushions can help redistribute pressure
Wheelchair cushions can help redistribute pressure

Wheelchair cushions designed to adjust to a person's size and form can help redistribute pressure and provide support for activities of daily living for patients with spinal cord injuries, report scientists at the Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación (Rehabilitation National Institute) in Mexico City. The cushions seem to provide the most benefit to patients with high thoracic and incomplete cervical injuries.

The study's 14 participants received a cushion obtained from a mold taken of their hips and buttocks, designed to prevent pressure ulcer formation while maintaining or promoting functionality. After two months of use for eight to 16 hours daily, depending on the patient's activity level, researchers assessed the patient's trunk control, posture, muscle stiffness, transfer capacity, comfort, skin reaction, and his or her ability to move the wheelchair by him/herself and shift his or her weight in order to release pressure. They also conducted interviews with each patient to assess satisfaction and perceived functionality with the cushion. 

Results showed a significant improvement in pressure distribution and skin reaction with the customized cushion compared to patients' previous cushions, an important factor in preventing pressure ulcers, researchers note. 

Results are published in the February issue of Ostomy Wound Management