Treat Your Butt Right!

When I was paralyzed about nine years ago, I, like many of us at the beginning, had little idea about everything that quadriplegia would entail. I knew nothing about what my bladder & bowel care would be like. I didn't know that I wouldn't be able to use my triceps even though I could lift my arms, nor that I wouldn't have hand function. Basically, I thought I was going to be capable of everything except using my legs to walk.

Among all the aspects of quadriplegia I learned about during rehab, the issue of skin sores was perhaps the most surprising. Who knew that sitting or lying in the same position could cause skin breakdown?! Well... apparently everyone in the health world. Proper skin care, including weight shifting, was a huge emphasis throughout my time in the hospital. One minute every thirty minutes was the rule for our weight shifts, and I stuck to it as if my life depended on it (which, in a sense, I guess it did).

Now, I'll confess: I haven't stayed entirely true to that weight shifting rule in the years following my return home. The therapists responsible for setting me up with my long-term wheelchair must have anticipated this, however, as they put in a seemingly inordinate amount of time and effort into finding me the perfect seat cushion. We must have spent a month trying this cushion for a week, then that cushion for another week... on and on until we found the perfect fit.

A man using a JAY X2 wheelchair cushion

While I must have tried every wheelchair cushion type out there, from molded foam to entirely air, what I found works best for me is the JAY J2, a QUICKIE cushion, which is a fluid/foam hybrid. The fluid is located at the base of your spine, providing a place for the coccyx (the pointy tip of your spine) to float, while the rest is foam to provide support. The extra firm support from the foam makes a huge difference when transferring in and out of the chair.

After nine years, I am fortunate not to have had any serious skin complications, and I owe my therapists greatly for ensuring I was set up with the perfect cushion. I also owe them for the amazing tip they gave me: they said even if insurance won't cover it, buy a second cushion. If you live an on-the-go lifestyle, and have the occasional bladder or bowel accident (psh, don't we all?), then having a second cushion to break out in a pinch is the perfect solution to keep things moving.

Wheelchair cushions are highly personal. A fluid/foam hybrid is my best fit, but I've talked with other quads and paras who swear by air cushions, even while others swear by foam. It really is up to you, and it takes time and trial to figure out what is best. If you're reading this in rehab, don't give your therapists a hard time for having you try a million different cushions! And if you're a seasoned wheelchair user who is having skin issues, it may be time to explore new seating options. The technology behind these cushions continues to develop.

If you're anything like me, you have no interest in lying face-down in bed for months letting your bum heal from a sore. That means you've got to treat your butt right! Be open & patient, put in the time, and set yourself up for success from the start with the perfect cushion for you.

About the Author

Cole and Charisma

Since the start of our relationship we've gotten a lot of questions about how we make things work not only as an interracial couple, but an interabled one as well. There are certainly differences, and despite them we have a great time, all the time! We started a video series on YouTube to bring people into our lives and our relationship to answer some questions about how we navigate the world with some of the behind-the-scenes stuff people typically don't see, and hopefully raise awareness surrounding accessibility and dating in a wheelchair. We're all about positivity, inclusion, and keeping a great attitude no matter your circumstances.

Most of the stories here on were submitted by readers. Do you have a story to tell? We'd love to hear it. Submit your story here.

Date: 6/2/2020 12:00:00 AM

Latest Comments

4/16/2024 | José Díaz
Invaluable resource! ¡Tu guía sobre el uso de GoFundMe para gastos de movilidad ofrece consejos p...

2/18/2024 | Jamie Elliott
I played in a wc hybrid tournament, Mid South, last yr. He is an amazing player and I’m sure he i...

2/8/2024 | Elaine Cook
Great article written by a wonderful Christain man. You're such an inspiration!!!

2/7/2024 | Diana Weaver
I enjoyed reading your article. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to play with you as my pi...

1/10/2024 | Mary Goldberg
Thanks to Tyler for sharing the awesome opportunities! As the MRT Program Director, I'm always ha...

How to get funding for your assistive technology