A solid seat insert is a removable, firm component that goes underneath your cushion. The solid seat insert creates a stable base of support underneath cushions, so your pelvis and thighs stay in optimal alignment while you're sitting.
Most cushions are made of softer materials which can be great for skin protection. However, when a soft cushion is on a sling seat upholstery that manual wheelchairs typically have, it can 'hammock' when sat upon. That 'hammock' shape looks like the whole seat is sagging and it can cause poor alignment of the pelvis. It can also put you at risk for increased pressure and pain. The insert can help prevent this.
A solid seat insert can be flat and made of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic or plywood, or it may be a curved insert to allow the cushion to sit flat on a hammocked seat upholstery. The insert could also be made of aluminum and have adjustable ‘fingers’ around the perimeter that allow adjustment to bend or contour the cushion on the sides, the back or the corners. This can help to correct or accommodate your individual shape and posture.
Why do you need to be supported when sitting?
Being comfortable and supported allows for longer periods of time in a wheelchair and therefore you could do more activities throughout the day.
Being supported is necessary to complete functional activities, such as reaching to a counter or shaking hands with someone new. It also allows you to interact with peers, go shopping and pay for items independently, even get a drink from the bar, etc.
Being able to sit for longer periods of time allows for more time to socialize, go out after work or school, and participate in activities that are longer in duration.
How does a solid seat insert help with functional activities?
When you are stable and supported and have increased sitting tolerance in your wheelchair, you can reach better and farther. You can push a wheelchair, or drive a power chair, can lean forward to work at your desk, and can transfer to and from various surfaces depending on the environment (eg. car, taxi, seat in movie theater).
Feeling stable and being able to sit in a balanced posture allows you to do more, reach for more, and feel safe during all activities.
The weight of the seating components is important when considering transporting your wheelchair in a vehicle. How heavy is each component, and how easy is it to either remove from your wheelchair or lift into a vehicle?
Do you have more questions on wheelchair seating and positioning? Check out our digital Wheelchair Handbook.
Permobil Clinical Education Team
This information comes from the Permobil Clinical Education team which consists of a group of Occupational and Physical Therapists. Click here to learn more about Permobil clinical education team.