The Critical Role of Cushion Covers
Wheelchair users might treat cushion covers as little more than upscale pillowcases, existing mostly to keep seat cushions clean.
But covers on complex rehab cushions do far more than that. And educating consumers on a cover’s true role can be the difference between an optimal seating system and one that compromises function.
Maximizing Interaction with the Client
Jeff Rogers is the senior product manager, pediatrics and seating, for Sunrise Medical. He explained how Sunrise (and other complex rehab manufacturers) design cushion covers.
“We have designs in some of our cushion covers which optimize immersion,” Rogers said. “For the Fusion, we do a cutout in the rear to allow only a thin layer of black stretch fabric to be in between the individual and the fluid medium, which allows better immersion. If that cover were put on backwards and you sat on top of spacer fabric [instead of the thin stretch fabric], you would hinder that. So there are things like that that we do to maximize [cushion] interaction with the client.
“With the J3 cushion, the cover was really a critical part of the design. The comfort part — with spacer fabrics and things like that — were built into the cover. But we know people take covers off and wash them, so if a cushion can be more forgiving while someone’s cleaning the cover, that can be a good thing, too.”
Rogers explained that consumers sometimes continue to use seat cushions while covers are being cleaned.
“There are a lot of facilities and clinics where the person can’t be off their chair while their cover’s being washed,” he said. “Instead of being in bed for a couple of hours, they’re going to just sit on their cushions. So we make sure cushions are protected when that happens.”
Rogers said that while an outer cover is being washed, an inner cover remains on the cushion to protect the foam.
Blankets, Towels & Slings
It’s also wise to educate consumers on the importance of cushion covers, and why it’s a bad idea to put a blanket or towel between the user and the cushion cover.
“We’ve seen people leave the sling for their Hoyer lift underneath them, between them and the cushion,” Rogers said. “That sling is very dense and does not stretch whatsoever. It really hinders what the cushion is designed to do.
“We say, ‘You’re buying this cushion that was specifically designed for you to sit in, and when you throw a towel over it or throw a blanket over it or a sling under it, you’re defeating the purpose you bought it for.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Mobility Management.