Charles Wood with an Airospring cushion image

An award-winning cushion developed to help people in wheelchairs is being snapped up by osteopaths across the UK to help them deal with an increasing number of back problems caused by working on their own home furniture.

Derbyshire firm Airospring Medical originally produced the wheelchair cushion specifically for Paralympic cyclist Karen Darke MBE, who used it when she won a gold medal at Rio in 2016.

Now, the cushion has been given a new lease of life after an “explosion” in back problems due to people working from home on kitchen stools and sofas.

Charles Wood, the owner of the technical textiles maker, says a number of employers have also bought the highly supportive cushions to make home workers more comfortable and ward off back problems in the future.

Osteopath Sue Morrison, who practices in East Anglia, says she is seeing increasing musculoskeletal problems stemming from workers sitting for long periods of time on unsuitable kitchen or dining chairs.

Sue commented: “We are dealing with a lot of spinal problems. During lockdown people’s everyday lives were restricted, so they couldn’t go to the gym or a Pilates class and instead they were spending long hours on their laptops.

“A laptop is not set up as well for them as their office station would be and these cushions are extremely good as they offer support to stop the back sagging.”

Each Airospring cushion is made from at least three layers of fabric, which spread the weight between them so that the pressure is not just localised in one area.

Dubbed “sitting on air”, the pressure-relieving cushions are made from 3D spacer fabric technology, the result of extensive research by the company and Professor Subhash Anand MBE at the University of Bolton.

The fabric is designed to be breathable, washable and comfortable. It has strong eco credentials too as it is made using recycled plastic drinks bottles.

Charles said: “The pandemic has meant millions of people are now working from home and will probably continue to do so for at least part of the week, well into the future.

“Our cushions have proven invaluable for so many people working from home. Long Zoom and Teams calls can be uncomfortable, and our fabric technology is the best way to avoid ‘numb bum’.

“We are also receiving a lot of enquiries from HR heads who know they need to give strong consideration to looking after their staff when they are working from home.”

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