How Will the Strength of the Upholstery Affect the User’s Seating Posture?

We are often asked, why is there a huge price difference among different wheelchair designs? What is the difference between a cheap wheelchair and a more expensive one? From our experience, “the strength of the wheelchair upholstery” is definitely one of the top reasons. 

A more well-engineered wheelchair usually offers a more solid upholstery, as the manufacturer put more effort into calculating the size of the upholstery, in that it can offer a solid support to the user’s back and hip. 

A cheaper wheelchair often comes with a loose backrest and seat upholstery, which creates the hammock effect. 

What is the hammock effect on a wheelchair?

The hammock effect is when the wheelchair upholstery starts to become loose and the user no longer has the support that they need. The lack of support on the buttocks means the user is more prone to scoliosis, pressure ulcers and shearing. The constant repositioning the user will do to make themselves comfortable will cause them to strain their lower back and shoulder muscles. 

The hammock effect is when the wheelchair upholstery start’s to loosen and the user’s sitting position becomes unstable and prone to secondary injuries. Source: Karma Medical

What is the solution?

If you have velcro adjustable seat rest and back rest, you can tighten them to reduce the hammock effect. If not, then we recommend that you choose a seat cushion, depending on the level of support that the user needs. Read more about the available seat cushions here

Reclining and tilting wheelchair

The best way to keep our elderly relatives comfortable, as well as make the life of the carer easier, is to invest in a reclining and tilting wheelchair. 

The reclining function option will open the seat to the back angle and increase the surface contact and spread the weight across more of the seat, preventing the user from sliding. Read more about how tilting and reclining wheelchairs work.

MVP 502 is the only reclining wheelchair on the market with an anti-sliding design to prevent user’s sliding down the wheelchair. Source: Karma YouTube – MVP502 Reclining Wheelchair.

The Tilt-in-Space wheelchair allows the user’s weight to shift to their back instead of the hips. The tilting wheelchair also allows the user’s sitting position to remain unchanged. A combination of the tilting and reclining functions is the most cost-effective as well as most beneficial to the user. 

VIP 515 is Karma’s tilting wheelchair that can be folded and fits in the trunk of a car. Source: Karma YouTube – VIP515 Tilting Wheelchair


Taking care of our elderly relatives is no easy feat but with the help of a correctly fitted Karma wheelchair, hopefully, it will be easier. At Karma, our goal is to make the carer’s life, as well as the user’s life easier with features like reclining, tilting, and adjustable foot and armrests. 

Follow our social media accounts to learn more about Karma wheelchair products and to see user stories likes this one: