Mobility Management spoke with Rachel Hoher, marketing director, Columbia Medical, about the PolyAir wheelchair seat cushion.
Q1: Describe the PolyAir cushion’s main features & benefits.
Columbia Medical has revolutionized the air cushion industry with the PolyAir cushion, which features an innovative air cell pattern that maintains superior stability and highly effective pressure relief. Extensive pressure mapping was used in developing the unique Polyair cushions to ensure balanced support, and the two-chamber design adapts easily to a patient’s morphology and helps to accommodate asymmetries and pelvic obliquities.
The Columbia Medical PolyAir also features an offset pattern of hexagonal cells that lock into place better than any other competitor product. This provides the user with superior stability and support.
Moreover, since proper inflating cannot be detected by touch, PolyAir cushions each come with a manometer with gauge to make it easier for individuals to check the “psi” (pounds per square inch) reading and inflate/deflate the cushion as needed or according to the therapist’s guidelines.
Additionally, PolyAir cushions are engineered with Laxprene, a superior material construction that makes them softer and 17 times more tear-resistant than the others.
PolyAir cushions range in size from 14×14″ all the way up to 20×20″. They can also be ordered according to cushion height: 2.5″ or 4″.
Q2: What target customer will benefit most from the PolyAir cushion’s features and functionalities?
According to the National Health Interview Survey on Disability (NHIS-D), there are an estimated 1.6 million disabled Americans, outside of institutions, who utilize wheelchairs due to physical impairments and disabilities. These disabilities include paraplegia, multiple sclerosis, mobility impairments caused by cardiovascular disease, and other motor function failures.
Prolonged immobility can cause insufficient blood flow to parts of the body that are subjected to constant pressure, such as in the case of an individual seated in a wheelchair. These body parts become increasingly vulnerable to pressure sores.
A pressure sore is a necrotic wound caused by the ulceration of skin tissues following the interruption of vascular circulatory flow; the vascular system and capillaries transport oxygen and nutrients that are essential to cells.
Individuals in prolonged seating positions are particularly subject to compression between protuberances of the body (sacrum, buttocks) and the chair. Prolonged high pressures, shear forces and frictions lead to a reduction or even interruption of blood flow. Blood vessels are then crushed or deformed under the effects of the pressure. This results in a pressure sore.
Q3: What sets the PolyAir cushion apart from its peers?
There are countless numbers of cushions available on the market today, including foam and air cushions all designed to help relieve pressure. Although foam cushions tend to be more cost effective, most do not offer enough support and stability to decrease the likelihood of pressure sores. These cushions tend to have poor technical features which can cause foam cushions to over-compress (a.k.a. “bottom out”), thus eliminating the padding between the individual and the chair.
In the case of air cushions, the optimal inflation is achieved when a therapist inflates multiple chambers according the user’s pelvic profile and morphology (weight/body shape). This means that asymmetries are balanced when each chamber is inflated to a specific psi. Unfortunately, most air cushions feature only one air chamber, making it difficult to correct pelvic asymmetries and to ensure lateral stability. Air cell cushions require regular control and adjustments. Deflation or over-inflation can cause severe skin damage. In addition, it is a challenge for the individual to maintain the required pressure due to the lack of an accurate reading device/gauge.