Cooling cushion allows woman to play sports more comfortably
Gemma Lumsdaine, 20, has cerebral palsy which makes it difficult for her to regulate the temperature of her body. However, since using the wheelAIR backrest cushion, it has allowed her to stay cool while she trains as well as remain stylish and comfortable.
Having played wheelchair sports from a young age, Gemma is now a member of many sports teams across the UK, including being on the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Talent Squad training for a step up to the Elite team and, potentially, the next Paralympics in Tokyo.
However, for people with cerebral palsy, their circulation is affected, meaning they can get too cold as well as too hot due to the difficulty in regulating their body temperature.
“When I am playing sport, I get very hot because of how intensely I push myself,” Gemma commented. “Being too hot affects my training because it makes me feel physically uncomfortable.
“If you’re really hot it can affect your focus and it can be very distracting to have to keep cooling down.”
She recalled one time where she was training in extremely warm and humid conditions, which made her feel uncomfortable and as a result, she found her training much harder.
During her rugby training, Gemma trialled the wheelAIR cooling backrest cushion to see if it would make a difference to her performance and overheating issue.
“I used the wheelAIR whist I was training and it did make me feel a lot cooler as it helped to regulate my temperature,” she said. “I think it helped the most during endurance training. It may have given me a slight advantage over other players who were dealing with overheating.”
Gemma also commented that the cushion came in handy when she was sunbathing as she felt cooler and more comfortable, allowing her to stay outside for a lot longer.
Another benefit of the wheelAIR was the support it offered to Gemma, as she felt it was a lot more comfortable compared to her previous backrests.
“Having a comfy backrest is essential since wheelchair users spend their lives with it,” she said. “You wouldn’t want to spend 4 years with a super uncomfortable chair!”
Finally, the young athlete spoke about the importance of having a stylish design.
“I feel like as a young person in a wheelchair, my wheelchair is part of me. So it’s very important that it looks young and modern. So what I like most about the wheelAIR is that it looks good and doesn’t stand out as being a medical aid. That’s a big thing for me.
“A lot of wheelchairs look so old fashioned, I personally wouldn’t use anything that didn’t align with my style.”
The pioneering wheelAIR cushion was first designed by Corien Staels in 2015 and entered the market in 2017.