Riser cushions

These cushions may assist a person to stand up from a chair. However, it is essential that these items are tried out before purchase to ensure they can be used safely.

Riser cushions. These cushions generally rise by tilting at an angle to assist with standing from a chair. A few models lift horizontally. These cushions are either manual or powered by mains electricity or battery.

They must only be used on a chair with armrests and a solid and stable seat base. The insert cushion should be of equivalent size to the chair seat, to prevent excessive movement. This fit of the riser cushion to the chair is important, some of these products are quite deep (49cm or 19 inches) so they may not suit a shorter seat depth. If the seat is too short in depth for the cushion it may not operate safely.

The use of a riser cushion will reduce the distance between the seat and armrests, this may create difficulty when the armrests are used as leverage to rise from the chair. Care should be taken to ensure the chair does not slip when the riser cushion is used. It is advisable to position the chair with its back to the wall.

The cushion material varies and this may affect the level of comfort, some of these products now have pressure relieving properties. If you have concerns about pressure care then an assessment by an Occupational therapist is highly recommended.

Riser cushions are portable and could therefore be useful for short term use on trips and holidays. The weight of the cushion varies considerably, some have an integral carrying strap and case.

Manual riser cushions are either purchased according to your weight and preset to order by the manufacturer, or can be adjusted by the user.

Users require enough strength in their arms to lift themselves from the seat in order to trigger the mechanism.These units are placed on the chair seat and will add to the overall seat height if the existing cushion is not removed; they must be used on a chair with armrests and a solid and stable seat base.
View DLF's list of riser cushions with manual operation

Powered riser cushions There are a few powered units which are run by mains electricity or battery. They tend to have a larger seat which can mean they are more comfortable. Some of the products are inflated to give a vertical rise and provide a stable base to stand up from. a vertical lift only which can be useful for people with weak quadriceps muscles. The main advantages are that the unit is not weight specific providing your weight is within the maximum weight capacity and that you can stop the rise or lower at any point. The units come with handsets on leads so for long term use for safety a chair would need to be positioned close to an electrical socket unless a portable battery compressor is used.
View DLF's list of powered riser cushions

Riser cushions for bariatric use These are units suitable for heavy duty use up to 254kgs/40 stone. As with all riser cushions they must only be used on a chair with armrests and a solid and stable seat base.
View DLF's list of riser cushions for bariatric use

You may be eligible for this, or similar equipment from your local authority following an assessment. If you are eligible the equipment will be provided on a long-term loan basis. Alternatively, you may be eligible for a direct payment from your local authority to purchase something suitable. View more information on equipment provision via your local authority and the direct payments scheme.

Alternative ideas that may assist you when sitting or standing include:
- Raising a chair's height
- Changing your technique for standing from a chair

If you would like similar advice regarding issues with sitting to standing and questions relating to chairs then you could try the sitting and standing or chairs sections of AskSARA. AskSARA is the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF)'s free online self assessment tool. AskSARA will ask you questions about yourself and your environment and then offer relevant advice, product suggestions and supplier details.
- AskSARA's Chair section
- AskSARA's Sitting and standing section

Advice last checked: 30 January 2018 Next check due: 30 January 2021

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
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