What to consider when choosing a wheelchair cushion

Your comfort matters. Just like nurses who buy comfortable shoes because they’re on their feet all day, if you’re going to spend most of the day sitting, you need a comfortable cushion.

The right wheelchair cushion also helps you stay in the proper position. This makes it easier to talk to others and keeps you safe by reducing your risk of sliding out of the chair.

Cushions can help prevent pressure sores which are painful and can be expensive if further treatment is needed. The right wheelchair cushion is a must-have if you use a wheelchair. Why does the right cushion matter?

Find the Right Material

Different materials fit different needs and budgets. The best option will depend on what you’re looking for and how much time you spend in your wheelchair.





Sitting in a wheelchair for long periods of time can cause discomfort, pain, and lead to poor blood circulation. Without appropriate support, sitting can lead to pressure injuries.

That is why it is so important to choose the correct wheelchair cushion for you or your loved one. The correct cushion will ensure that pressure is redistributed and encourage the proper pelvic positioning and postural alignment.

There a wide range of materials and style available and it is important that the cushion chosen is based on the unique needs of the individual to ensure that injuries are reduced and comfort, sitting tolerance, and independence are maximised.

What factors should I consider?

When deciding on the cushion that is right for the user, you may want to consider the following:

  • The level of support required to ensure proper positioning and alignment and if there is muscle atrophy.
  • If the user is prone to developing pressure injuries or has a fragile or thin skin that tears easily.
  • How long will the user be sitting for and will it be for prolonged periods? Are they self-propelling, and how often they will be moving in or out of their wheelchair
  • The height of the user to ensure the thickness of the cushion will not prevent their feet from touching the footrests or ground and from moving in and out of their wheelchair safely.
  • Ensure that the cushion is rated to the correct weight capacity for the user to ensure the cushion provides optimal stability, retains its shape, and won’t bottom out while extending the life of the cushion.

Cushion Types

Wheelchair cushions come in a variety of materials, including foams, gels, air cells, and hybrid combinations

Foam Cushions are soft, lightweight, spongy, and provide excellent comfort, durability, and mild pressure relief for improved sitting tolerance, making them suitable for self-propelling users or those who do not have any skin issues.  They are ideally suited for minimal to moderate positioning needs, foam cushions come in a variety of thicknesses and densities, making them a reliable and popular everyday choice. An everyday choice cushion for low-risk users would be the Harley Comfort Plus Cushion which is ideal for most situations. It is lightweight and easy to carry and made for high-grade foam to improve comfort.

Memory Foam Cushions are designed for users who have to sit for long periods of time and who are at higher risk of developing pressure injuries that may require a premium memory foam cushion such as the Harley Designer Super V Cushion that reduces pressure dissipates heat and moisture away from points of interface pressure. It molds to body contours for optimal pressure redistribution relief of painful weight-bearing pressure points. This cushion increases sitting tolerance and improves posture.

Gel Foam Cushions combine stability with pressure management while at the same time giving great comfort and skin protection. They are ideal for users who have to sit for extended periods and those with positioning issues. They can also be used to stabilise users with atrophied muscles. The Harley Visco Gel Cushion is the ultimate pressure-relieving cushion providing stability and support together with optimum comfort.

Bariatric Cushions

It is important to choose a cushion for Bariatric Users that won’t bottom out or lose its shape while distributing weight evenly to minimize pressure injuries. The Bari-Care Designer Sculptured Bariatric Wheelchair Cushion offers both weight distribution and reduction of pressure while helping to prevent bottoming out. The Bari-Care Designer Cushion has a three-part construction to maximise comfort and stability. It provides relief at critical pressure points and supports optimal posture.

Cushion Covers

Cushion covers are essential if you want to extend the life of your wheelchair cushion. They provide both therapeutic and aesthetic value. Covers with two-way stretch are breathable to avoid causing hot spots and skin breakdown. Water-resistant or fluid-proof fabrics are ideal for users who have incontinence issues. Nonslip bottoms help keep cushions in place and removable cushion covers are ideal for quick and easy laundering or cleaning.