My Experience of 2 Point Wheelchair Pelvic Positioning Belts

A pelvic belt is part of the wheelchair positioning I need because I have a rotated pelvis and semi-dislocated hips as well as scoliosis (a curve in my spine) , kyphosis (slumped posture) and lordosis (a larger inward spinal curve at the lumbar spine).

A 2 point belt attaches to a wheelchair like a standard seatbelt, in two places and a 4 point one attaches in four.

I require a belt that can be tightened on both sides of my hips and pelvis so each side is supported but it has to be done by someone as I don’t have the hand strength, coordination or dexterity to do so myself. There are padded and unpadded belts and I have tried both but I prefer padded for comfort.

Even when the belt is tightened, my lower body slides underneath it and I slip forward easily. The belt also moves upwards, changing its position and therefore the support it gives me. It feels almost like I have no support from the belt when my body slips which is complicated by my trunk and head control so I can move involuntarily and it has been especially worrying at times when going over uneven ground or having my wheelchair moved in an unexpected direction (not at speed) has made me slip so badly that, were it not for the belt, the force with which my wheelchair wheels hit the uneven ground would have made me fall out of my wheelchair.

After my negative experience with these kind of belts, I am going to try a 4 point belt which has 2 extra pieces of material to keep the belt from moving around and to help me feel safer. 4 point belts are meant to help better with hypertonia (high muscle tone) as well as spasticity which is what I have, although my tone can vary due to my involuntary movements and especially if I am tired.

I’m looking forward to getting a new kind of belt and hope it helps better than a 2 point one.

Review: Vicair Twin Wheelchair Cushion (Discontinued model)

When my wheelchair technician years ago suggested I try an air cushion for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to think. I wanted to try it as I was disappointed with my other cushions in terms of comfort and positioning.

He managed to convince me and then mentioned a brand called Vicair. I had never heard of them before and knew that he had well-known brands and was looking to incorporate different brands into what he sold.

I spoke to him in depth about my uneven pelvis, half-dislocated hips and bad sitting balance (that’s sitting still, but you just wait until I’m moving in my wheelchair, then things get worse).

He noticed I have scoliosis (an enhanced spinal curve) kyphosis (a slumped posture) and lordosis (a larger than normal inwards curve on my lumbar spine). All this means I can’t sit straight or sit back in my wheelchair.

He immediately explained that I needed a cushion with at least 2 compartments to provide support to each side of my body and that air would be good as it would surround (and hopefully relax) my body better instead of fluid which was not going to provide enough support.

Cushion Facts:

Air sacs called “SmartCells” make up the cushion and they are triangle shaped to rub against each other and therefore provide support.

2 different covers: mesh and incontinence proof

2 heights: 6 and 10cm.

My thoughts on the Vicair Twin:

I bought this cushion in 2010 and at the time did not realise there were two cover options.

Mine had the mesh cover and I found the cover too slippery. I slipped off it and had to be re-positioned a couple of times as soon as I was in my wheelchair at the beginning of the day without having moved anywhere and I was not very stable on it (sliding and repositioning caused leg and trunk spasms but I noticed my leg spasms were especially bad with this cushion).

I was not able to try it before I bought it and had no idea about other air cushions (but I am more informed now and have one from a different brand of cushion that I love). In total, I had the Vicair Twin for three years.

I had the cushion that is 6cm high and was thinking that maybe the 10cm high cushion may have been better but now I know that that would not have made things better for me as my main issue with the cushion was me slipping and instability although the SmartCells were meant to prevent that. They didn’t for me.

The cushion structure seemed to me to be almost like a beanbag and that was the sensation I had while using it. I did not feel it was supportive enough in terms of posture support because of this although it is supposed to provide a medium level of postural support.

The feeling of air versus foam or foam and fluid was one that I liked because, as the technician explained, air would surround my pelvis better and I would be sat “in” the cushion rather than “on” it as I would be if I had a fluid, foam or fluid-foam combination cushion.

The cushion is light which is good for those who are going to wash the cushion but as I can’t lift or position the cushion, this is not a great concern for me. Those who did this for me valued the lightweight cushion. The cushion is very low maintenance and does not need air pumps. The cushion can be slightly massaged to get the best position for sitting before the user is placed (or sits themselves) on it.

I did feel I needed more postural support as the cushion is the same material all over and is smooth, so I had the feeling of “sinking” that I had with foam and fluid cushions but to a lesser extent as this is air. The air felt slightly more supportive.

I felt the 6cm cushion was too low and there was no way of positioning my legs better like on some cushions, so after a short while my body and legs started to slide like they were on a slope as they do when the cushion is too low or not supportive enough and were not in the best position. I was being repositioned a lot. This meant my husband, or whoever I was with, constantly stopping to reposition me and I was concerned about slipping all the time. I don’t find the cushion the best for vibration dampening from wheelchair movement either (at least for me). I am very sensitive to vibrations from the wheelchair moving as they lead to increased pain and spasms and I can be bumped around because of my bad trunk control.

With this cushion, falling out of my wheelchair is a danger in spite of having a hip belt that is well fastened.

I now know this was because of the cushion not being the best for me as I have better posture with other cushions that have a hard base and edges for stability and positioning.

The Vicair Twin cushion is considered an “entry level” air cushion in the Vicair range and there is a “lifetime warranty” on the SmartCells. They can be removed or added to the cushion as needed (more can be ordered). In the years I had the cushion, only one cell deflated.

**At the time of this post, the Vicair Twin cushion as the model I had has been discontinued but there is a product called the Vicair Twin 02 cushion**

https://www.vicair.com is where you can find the full range of products. Invacare UK also stock the range: https://www.invacare.co.uk/pressure-care-seating/vicair-cushions.

Check your Invacare website wherever you are in the world.

For those of you in the US, The Comfort Company website has it: https://www.comfortcompany.com/wheelchair_cushions/vicair

To sum up, I think the cushion is better suited to someone with very good trunk control (an active wheelchair user who can easily self propel and reposition themselves).

I’m glad I tried this brand as the concept of the cells is interesting but it does not help me enough with positioning or comfort and I had backache and bad spasms after having used it because it was tiring for me to try to sit on.

Sunrise Medical Jay 3 Deep Contour Dual Valve Wheelchair Cushion Review And Comparison With My Other Cushions

imageToday is my first full day with my new wheelchair cushion. I have been using the Jay 3  foam and fluid-filled cushion in the standard height for some years now, and did not feel comfortable with it. I felt that, for me, the fluid was not supportive or comfortable enough. I also found that the fluid was very sensitive to temperatures  and so when the weather was cold it would go hard and be more uncomfortable. A long time ago, I used gel cushions but they had the same thing going on with the comfort level of the fluid.  In 2010, I tried my first air cushion, the Vicair Twin. I realised that air made me more comfortable for all-day use. The disadvantage of it for me was that there was not enough positioning support and the cover, which was mesh, made me slip during transfers. I still have the Vicair and it’s in good condition with only 1 broken air sac.  Another disadvantage to it, I find, is the height. At 6cm high, it’s low for me. I use it when relaxing on my bed.

When I first got my Jay 3 fluid cushion, it was comfortable but became very uncomfortable after a few years of use. When it bottomed out, I knew it was time to look for something else. I was assessed by different technicians who made suggestions .

After a lot of looking around and trying out cushions (Roho Mid and High Profile cushions) and getting some suggestions which I know would not have been appropriate for me, I finally settled on the Jay 3 again, but this time went for the Deep Profile one to have more protection. I chose 2 air valves in my Roho insert because one side of my pelvis is higher than the other and both are twisted inwards which affects the posture of my feet and legs.

My. body feels most relaxed with the 2-valve air cushion. It has firm foam for positioning at the front and sides and an air insert (made by Roho) at the back. The extra height  compared to the standard version as well as the extra protection means   I’m much more comfortable too.

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This is what the cushion looks like inside. The air cushion is lighter  than the fluid (gel) one too, so easier for whoever is transferring me to move if needed.  I was very nearly going to choose the Roho Quadtro Select but was a little unstable on it as it is all air cells, and so finally went for the Jay 3 Deep Profile air cushion.

I feel happy with it and I’m sat a little straighter, not leaning to one side so much as I was with the gel cushion. I trialled the “personalised inserts” for the gel cushion in the wheelchair shop over a year ago when my cushion search started but decided against them as they made no difference to my comfort or posture.

I found out about custom- moulded seating by Otto Bock and that  seemed a great idea because of the options they give you but the downside for me was the cost- it would have been the most expensive seating option and was out of my budget.

I didn’t feel like anything but the Jay 3 Air cushion would have met my needs and was put off the Roho Quadtro Select by the amount of YouTube videos of people looking for punctures in theirs which seemed like a long process. Seeing as I can’t do any chair/ cushion maintenance myself and have not had a lot of luck with technicians lately I didn’t feel confident enough in going for the Quadtro Select. Plus, the only way to get my size would have been custom sizes and that was expensive too.

Maybe I’ll try a Quadtro Select in the future but for now I’m happy with my Jay 3 air cushion. I don’t have hip or back pain anymore and am liking the Roho air insert. I think I made the right choice by buying it. It’s a good cushion for positioning and stability. Although I still get unstable and always will (I tend to lean to the side and forwards when my body feels like it).  I have positioning wedges on the  cushion too.

It works well with the Jay 3 deep shoulder height backrest I have.