Cushions take the pressure off Shona when travelling

4 minute(s) to read

Shona McGrath is an ironwoman, triathlete, adventure racer, and a national cycling champion – but a mountain bike accident two years ago left her paralysed from her shoulders down and living with constant pain.

“I was getting back into my mountain biking and training for the nationals when I had my accident,” the 64 year-old explains. “I was doing a jump and I don’t know what happened. It just didn’t go right.”

Shona suffered a traumatic brain and spinal injury and now suffers chronic pain in her chest and back. She is still heavily involved in the cycling community and regularly travels to sporting events – but getting there comfortably in the car is difficult.

“At the moment I’m waiting for a specialised vehicle which I can drive myself so I am reliant upon being driven around. The vibrations in the car and the non-pressure relieving aspect of car seats means I’m more likely to get pressure sore areas and also increased pain,” Shona explains.

“I have an area on my sacrum that has been an issue with pressure sores so I need to be super careful. We travel quite a lot so it’s important that I have suitable support.”

Cubro recently supplied Shona with a Stabilo backrest cushion which can be easily moulded around her back to provide stability and support. We also provided a Repose cushion to sit on which relieves pressure on soft tissue areas, providing comfort and effective pressure redistribution.

Both cushions come with an easy-to-use pump to inflate with more air when necessary, and are extremely portable. In addition to the car, Shona uses both cushions to prop herself up in bed, relax in a rocking chair, and even during plane rides.

Shona recently put the cushions to the test by driving six and a half hours from her home in Ashburton to Invercargill – something she never would have been able to tolerate before. “The cushions are really great. I put one behind my back and it kind of wraps around me and keeps me upright in a good position in the car. And the one I sit on is relieving for my butt. So they really make it far more enjoyable when going on a trip.”

“If I was in the car without them, I can get quite sore. I could probably get up to an eight out of 10 in terms of pain level. With the cushions it probably takes it down to about a five which is quite good on the scale of things.”

The cushions also make Shona feel more secure and safer when travelling in a vehicle. “When you’re paralysed from quite high up, you actually move quite a lot in your chair because you’ve got no core muscles to help engage and keep you where you are. If a car stops really quickly or goes around a corner, you can get thrown around all over the place! This back cushion wraps around me and actually keeps me a lot more secure''.

“They also allow me to recline the seat back a little bit and still feel like I’m supported in the seat. It’s nice to have a wee snooze!”

While she hasn’t needed to clean them yet, Shona says the cushions would be very easy to wipe down with a cloth if necessary.

Life may have changed dramatically, but Shona is as busy and active as ever – she works as a finance manager for Advance Ashburton Community Foundation, and has 10 grandchildren to spend time with. She’s pleased to have found some comfort and pressure relief in the Stabilo and Repose cushions to make life a tiny bit easier.

“I would definitely recommend them because you can use them in so many different places, not just the car. And if you struggle with your strength, they’re nice and light and easy to transport. They’re just so easy to cart around and so useful.”

Cubro case studies are based on actual testimonials provided by real customers and users of our solutions.  In some testimonials to protect the identity of the users, we have changed a name and used a stock photo. Our case studies describe our past work with customers and users, and detail solutions that have improved their quality of life. As each individual user has a unique set of needs and requirements, the content in these case studies should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from a registered clinician.