What is Loop?
An effective wheelchair cushion is essential to preventing life threatening pressure sores. Current options for cushions in developing countries are lacking in either durability, availability, or cost. The ideal cushion for wheelchair users in developing countries would be low-cost, able to evenly distribute pressure, easy to clean and repair, and made of materials that are locally available and accessible.
The Loop Cushion is a low-cost inflatable wheelchair seat cushion very similar to the best air cushion available on the market. However, Loop is made out of bike inner tubes, a material both cheap and available anywhere in the world. The cushion itself consists of just two parts: a simple plastic base and 3 inner tubes looped through the base. Since it is made out of bike inner tubes, the cushion can simply be repaired or replaced by the user if broken or worn out so that the user never has to use a worn down or broken cushion.
The World Health Organization cites that the life expectancy for people with spinal cord injuries in low to middle income countries is as low as one year. Even worse, the primary cause of death is not the spinal cord injury itself, but preventable pressure sores. Caused by a lack of blood supply to tissue, pressure sores often progress to infection and death because without proper education or training, the pressure sores often go undetected as wheelchair users cannot feel it themselves. The wounds are usually only detected once they become infected, which is often too late. Furthermore, proper pressure sore treatment is often inaccessible or too costly for wheelchair users. Wheelchair seat cushions are essential to preventing life-threatening pressure sores. Unfortunately, many users in developing countries receive poor quality cushions or have no cushions at all. In countries such as Indonesia, the only ways to get a seat cushion are to receive a foam cushion from NGO’s or to make your own cushion. Air cushions, such as the ROHO cushion, provide superior quality to both options, but are priced at $400. NGO’s pay just $10 for foam cushions and around $250 for wheelchairs, which puts the ROHO cushion completely out of the price range.