We humans were not designed to be sitting in wheelchairs for extended periods.
Wheelchair comfort has taken a giant leap forward in the 20th century, with the advances in materials such as plastics, rubber and poly-stretch.
A small adjustment in one of your wheelchair accessories can make a big difference in the level of comfort. If you are going to be in a wheelchair full time it is important that you be as comfortable as possible.
Here are 10 simple ways you can improve your wheelchair comfort level:
1) A ROHO Cushion
A cushion is probably the first place to begin when trying to improve your wheelchair comfort level. There are many options available but the ROHO cushion seems to be one of the best on the market today. They are made up of numerous inflated nodules that provide a pillow effect while seated.
ROHO cushions come in high or low profile models. The height refers to the nodules. Most insurance companies cover these as they are very good at eliminating skin breakdown. Be sure to try both models to see which one works better for you.
2) Lumbar Support
If you don’t get proper lumbar support, it can make for a very long uncomfortable day in a wheelchair. The lumbar is that small curved area in the lower back. Depending on your budget, you can go with a rolled up towel all the way up to a lumbar support attachment.
This small adjustment can make a huge difference in the level of your comfort. It is at least worth a try if you have never used it before.
3) Cushioned Arm Rests
Improve your comfort level can greatly with a cushioned armrest. If you are going to be in your wheelchair for extended periods daily, this little improvement can make a huge difference.
4) Footrest Adjustment
The correct position of your footrest can greatly affect your comfort level. The most comfortable position is to have your knees slightly higher than your hips.
Too low and they are ineffective, too high will cause your butt to be pushed back into the seat making it cramped and uncomfortable.
5) Cross Your Legs
This is a well known trick by wheelchair users to relieve back pain while still sitting in the wheelchair. Be sure to switch legs every few hours to avoid developing pressure sores.
6) Jay Backrest
It is good to try various backrests to see if there is an improvement in your comfort level. The Jay backrest is one of the more popular backrests on the market.
They are made of soft foam cushion and curves to the lumbar part of your lower back. Once it is broken in, it will have that customized feel.
7) Lateral Side Supports
If you have balance problems or bad torso control, lateral side supports would be very useful. They are small protrusions at the side of your backrest that help to stabilize your torso so you don’t have to keep readjusting laterally.
8) Avoid Bulky Clothing
Avoid bulky clothing like huge wool sweaters, thick coats or tops, or any kind of excessive clothing or material when seated in a wheelchair for long periods. Bulky clothing can throw off all your finely tuned adjustments and result in a very uncomfortable day.
Use thin fabrics as much as possible. If it is cold, try to find warm clothes made with thin fabrics.
9) Recline the Backrest a Few Degrees
This might seem like a small adjustment but it can result in great comfort if not overdone. Sitting upright for too long, you have a tendency to lean forward just a bit. By doing this, you will have to constantly readjust your seating position.
That slight recline in your backrest can make a huge difference.
10) Custom Seating
You have tried all the tricks but nothing seems to be working. Custom seating might be your next step. Your doctor or physical therapist will use pressure mappings to make the perfect seat and backrest for your wheelchair.
Getting comfortable in your wheelchair is possible, so don’t give up until you try some of the tips above. One simple adjustment can make the world of difference.
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