Checklist: How Is Your Seat Cushion Holding Up?

Your wheelchair seat cushion is designed to stand up to years of everyday use. But a number of factors — from extreme temperatures to contact with moisture to living an active lifestyle or experiencing a change in medical condition — can lead to cushion wear and tear.

And that can impact how efficiently you propel your chair, your posture while you're in the chair, your comfort and the health of your skin.

Wheelchair cushions show signs of wear differently, according to their materials and design. Here are some signs to look for.

Cushion Cover

  • Look for rips or tears in the fabric.
  • Look for signs of severe wear, including pilling of fabric or change in fabric color in certain areas of the cover.

Foam Cushion

  • Is one part of side of the cushion lower than the other?
  • Look for crumbling or crusty foam.
  • Does the foam spring back to its original height when compressed, then released?
  • Check for mold, especially if the cushion is exposed to moisture.

Fluid/Gel Cushion

  • Does the fluid/gel pack feel flattened?
  • Is the fluid or gel able to move freely within its pack?
  • Are the seams and cover of the pack still intact? Look for cracks and punctures.

Honeycomb Cushion

  • Do the cushion cells return to their original shape when they're compressed, then released?
  • Are any cells flattened?

Air Cushion

  • Are seams and air chambers intact? Look for leaks or punctures in air chambers.
  • Look for "stress lines" across the air chambers, where the material of the chamber is being stretched too far. Check for lighter-colored areas of the cells, which could indicate stress lines.
  • Check for cracks or other signs of degrading.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at