According to the WHO, a leading cause of death for people with spinal cord injuries in the developing world is preventable secondary conditions such as pressure sores. High quality wheelchair seat cushions that evenly distribute pressure are essential for preventing this life-threatening condition, yet such cushions are inaccessible in many developing countries due to their high retail cost — nearly $400 for a top-of-the-line air cushion. Wheelchair users often instead use less effective foam cushions, which degrade over time and are not well suited to many wheelchair users’ needs.
We have designed a low-cost, inflatable wheelchair seat cushion that replicates the pressure-relieving capability of the best air cushions on the market at a fraction of the cost. The Loop Cushion utilizes three bicycle inner tubes woven through a plastic base that provides structure and segments the inner tubes into connected air pockets similar to those of more expensive air cushions. Loop is inexpensive, repairable, easily washable, and can be locally sourced.
- Ella Lyman Cabot Trust (2017, prize: $15,000)
- MIT IDEAS Global Challenge (2018, prize: $7,500)
- MIT’s Sandbox Innovation Fund (2018, prize: $3,000)
- MIT’s Legatum Center ( 2018, prize: $2,000)
- MIT’s Tau Beta Pi Engineering Society (2017, 2018, 2019, prize: $11,000)
- MIT 100K Accelerate Prototyping Funds (2017, prize: $500)
“Over the past year our team has been navigating the transition from student project to non-profit organization. Some of our focus areas have been to develop our business plan and think about future steps for our company. As a team of three engineers, we benefited greatly from being paired with a business mentor who challenged us to broaden our skills as social entrepreneurs.”– Sarah Tress, Founder of Loop Cushion