HomeAboutClassesEventsNewsSupport GroupsVideos & Media Search LIFE Center
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: LIFE Center
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: LIFE Center

Skin Care: Mattresses and Cushions

Reviewed June 2016
Author: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago - Nursing Practice Council

Wheelchair cushions, mattresses and mattress toppers can help relieve pressure when sitting or lying down. The type of cushion or mattress can allow you to stay in one position for longer periods of time and reduce the risk of developing pressure sores. There are many different types of cushions and mattress. Some are made of foam, air, water and/or gel.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all of the devices. The following are some general considerations for the major type of devices.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to transfer
  • Decreases pressure only small amount
  • Can cause skin problems if wet
  • Adequate pressure relief
  • Very heavy
  • Can develop leaks
  • Hard to transfer
  • Good for decreasing pressure
  • Lightweight
  • Can leak
  • Hard to transfer
  • Needs careful inflation
  • Expensive
Alternating Air Mattress
  • Very effective at decreasing pressure
  • Can break
  • Expensive

In general it is best to use the device that is least expensive while being effective. Things to consider when making a choice:

  • ability to consistently perform pressure reliefs;
  • need for a firm surface to perform transfers;
  • ability of the skin to handle pressure without being damaged.

Back to Top

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
LIFE Center
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
345 E. Superior Street, First Floor
Chicago IL 60611

1.312.238.LIFE (5433) Fax 1.312.238.2860
The content of this Web site is for informational purposes only.
It does not replace the advice of a physician or other health care professionals.
Please see our Terms of Use which are located at the link at the top of the page.
Please see our disclaimer for more details.
All material is the property of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
All rights reserved.

Copyright 2016 Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
medicine on the net web excellence award     Bobby WorldWide Approved 508
The development and ongoing growth of the LIFE Center is made possible exclusively through contributions by individuals and community agencies. If you or someone you know wants to support the LIFE Center, please contact Nadia Joseph 312-238-1257 or click “here” to make an online donation. We are grateful for your generosity.