The Roho Pressure Relieving Cushion
I have been sitting in a wheelchair since 1986 so I am the first person to tell you that using a good quality pressure relieving cushion in your wheelchair at all times is so incredibly important. In the early days of my injury, maybe up to about three years after breaking my neck, I was a little bit complacent and didn't pay enough attention to my wheelchair cushions. Whereas I have always used a pressure relieving cusion while sitting at home for long periods of time, I did for a period of time only use a piece of sheepskin in my Myra electric wheelchair. Unfortunately you just cannot do this if you are a permanent wheelchair user, sadly I found out to my cost that sitting on a piece of sheepskin was a recipe for skin problems. I developed my first pressure sore in 1991 after ignoring red marks that were appearing on my backside, in the end I ended up with a small but thankfully relatively minor pressure sore which took about four weeks of bed rest to clear up. That really was my wake-up call and ever since I have been extremely cautious about what type of wheelchair cushion I sit on.
Way back in 1986 when I first started getting out of bed I was tested on various wheelchair cushions, because I would develop red marks fairly quickly on normal foam cushions, it was decided that a flotation air pressure relieving cushion would be my best choice for a wheelchair cushion. After I left hospital and bought my first lightweight sports wheelchair I got myself a Jay gel wheelchair cushion. These type of cushions are very good, but only if you are not prone to red marks or skin problems. After spending time in bed with a pressure sore, I went straight on to a ROHO cushion as a preventative to developing another pressure sore. Thankfully, I have found a cushion that suits my particular skin, I've not got much flesh on my backside so I have got to be particularly careful when sitting in a wheelchair.
Now I'm not by any means an expert so any advice I give you should really be taken very lightly and only as friendly advice. Having said that I am somebody who knows exactly what it is like to have to spend time in bed with skin problems.
If you suffer from a spinal-cord injury and have spent time in a spinal unit then you should have been assessed and given good advice about preventative measures when it comes to pressure sores and skin problems. If it didn't sink in and you are the sort of person that doesn't think about problems with your skin then please take my advice and keep a very close check on your backside. Look out for any unusual marks that may develop, red marks should not be ignored, they must be monitored very carefully as a pressure sore can develop in no time at all. Red marks normally developed if too much pressure is being put on one area of your bottom. If you do you develop a red mark then firstly check your cushion, if you are using an air cushion such as a ROHO then make sure that you have enough air in it, please check this link out as it will show you the correct way to set up a ROHO cushion. If you are not using an air cushion and are developing red marks then ask yourself why this is happening, maybe you are not relieving the pressure enough. If you are sitting on a normal foam cushion then you will have to relieve pressure on a regular basis. If your cushion is set up properly and you are relieving pressure on a regular basis then there is absolutely no reason why you should develop red marks and a pressure sore. Another thing to bear in mind is that it is quite easy to develop red marks whilst laying in bed, especially if you are lying on your side and putting pressure on a bony hipbone, this area can be very susceptible to pressure problems. If like me you stay in the same position whilst in bed for a fairly long periods of time then you would probably benefit from using some kind of pressure relieving mattress. There are many types of pressure relieving bed mattresses available so have a word with your local nurses as they will be able to help you. I personally use an alternating air mattress on my bed, this basically changes pressure automatically so in theory my pressures are changing all night long. I only started using one of these air mattresses in 2005 when I had to spend a period of time in bed. Because they work so well I really wouldn't use anything else, I value my air mattress almost as much as my ROHO cushion.
Remember that other factors play a part in how healthy your skin stays. A healthy diet consisting of protein foods for instance is an extremely effective way of maintaining healthy skin, I am not suggesting that you eat half a cow every day, protein can be found in other foods other than meat, have a word with a dietician and they will give you really good advice on how you can eat healthily. Drinking lots of water is also important, it is not only good for your kidneys but it's also good for your skin as well. I would suggest that you try and drink about 2 L of water every day. It's not difficult, I drink out of a pint glass and easily drink 2 L of water each day. (not including tea and juice).
Finally I must mention smoking, if you are a wheelchair user then smoking is a really big no-no. Apart from the obvious, smoking can also have a serious effect on your skin, if you are wheelchair user then smoking could possibly make you more susceptible to developing skin problems so my advice to anyone in the wheelchair is don't smoke under any circumstances.
Nowadays I always use a ROHO cushion in my wheelchair, there is no other cushion available that I trust more than one of these flotation pressure relieving cushions. The Roho cushion is probably the best and most effective pressure relieving wheelchair cushion in the world. They were developed I believe to accommodate soldiers coming back from the Vietnam war, many of them had serious spinal-cord injuries and were developing serious pressure sores, then the roho cushion came along and changed everything, suddenly people could sit up for long periods of time without developing sores. There are lots of different types of ROHO cushion available, it is very important that you choose the correct cushion for your situation, choosing the wrong cushion could easily put you at risk from developing problems with your skin so get advice on which Roho cushion suits you the best. I think the only drawback with the Roho is because they are air cushions, they are obviously prone to developing punctures. Some people complain that they cannot sit on a Roho without experiencing stability problems. Roho have developed various cushions that can overcome stability issues, the Roho Quadtro for instance has been designed with stability in mind and is very popular with many wheelchair users, in fact it is the very cushion I use myself.
There are quite a few outlets in the UK that sell Roho Cushion, I have included a few links to some companies who can supply Roho.