Wheelchair cushion is an integral part of a wheelchair and not to be considered an accessory. The type of cushion best suited to the user will depend on his/her needs. People who are at risk of developing a pressure sore should always use a pressure-relieving cushion. Wheelchair cushions provide comfort, pressure distribution and assist with positioning.
Pressure relief cushions help to reduce pressure by:
- distributing a wheelchair user’s weight as evenly as possible across the seat surface;
- reducing pressure under high-pressure risk areas (seat bones, hip bones, coccyx/tail bone);
- reducing shear by assisting the wheelchair user to sit upright.
The wheelchair user faces various technical and market challenges when it comes to procuring a wheelchair cushion-
- Lack of awareness: Many users are unaware about the benefits of a pressure-relieving cushion.
- Availability: Limited wheelchair cushion options are available. Either poor quality cushions or imported choices dominate the market.
- After sales service: There is no after sales service available in the Indian market.
- Price: Imported cushions, which are better quality, are very expensive, price ranging between 20,000- 35,000 INR.
- Prone to punctures: Air filled cushions are prone to puncture and are usually difficult to repair.
- Material: As the Indian weather condition is extreme. A heat and moisture repellent cover would be beneficial for the Indian environment.
SMOI aims to establish a partnership of leading industry (collaborating partner) and funding agencies to pursue a private partnership to develop an affordable wheelchair pressure-relieving cushion. We aim to launch an affordable wheelchair cushion that:
- Is tailored to the Indian environment
- Is a high-quality pressure relieving cushion, leveraging mature product designs
- Locally manufactured and sold in the Indian market
Amongst people with disabilities, children have been found to be particularly disadvantaged when it comes to wheelchair product options and services. The necessity for an appropriate wheelchair with adequate supportive seating is even more important for a child in order to prevent secondary disabilities whilst also taking into account rapid physical growth and changing cognitive and functional skills. Pediatric wheelchair options most commonly available are often either bulky, expensive, or difficult to adjust, thereby hindering social inclusion and ultimately quality of life.
The unique seating requirements for a child involves most intuitively the need for growth adjustability, absence of which will inhibit physical development and increase the potential of secondary disabilities such as spinal deformities, pressure ulcers etc. Consequently, children who do not have access to appropriate wheelchairs are frequently dependent their entire life and cannot fully contribute to and participate in society. Due to age or disability, children are often unable to perform independent pressure relief and hence placing them at a higher risk of developing pressure sores. A Tilt in Space (TIS) system is an optimal solution to assist with pressure relief along with assistance with transfers, feeding, breathing, sleeping etc. Additionally children with mobility impairments would require supportive seating to prevent development of spinal deformities. Early intervention of adequate supportive seating would prevent the development of postural deformities. Furthermore good sitting postures would promote and assist with physiologic process such as respiration, digestion, cardiovascular function etc.
In emerging markets such as India, low cost Pediatric wheelchair options, often poor in design and untested for durability/safety, are bulky with limited adjustability and postural support thereby hindering social inclusion and ultimately quality of life. Commercially available imported pediatric manual wheelchairs can accommodate growth adjustability and postural needs but are expensive and hence not affordable by the majority of the population. PALM WC will be designed and tested as per ANSI/RESNA standards while incorporating all the functionality of a commercially available technology at approximately 1/3 their retail price.