For those people who spend a lot of time in bed, in a powerchair or wheelchair, or a riser recliner chair, the risk of pressure sores can be high.
With the right pressure relieving mobility products and remembering to change positions regularly, the risk of pressure sores can be greatly reduced.
Bed sores are areas of skin that are damaged, and usually affect the bony areas of the body, such as heels, hips, elbows and head. Pressure sores are serious, and can damage the fatty tissue underneath the skin. Untreated, they can lead to infection and blood poisoning, and in severe cases, they can even be life threatening.
Pressure sores and ulcers, or decubitus, are caused a person staying in the same position without moving; shearing, which is when the skin drags when slipping or sliding in bed and friction from poor lifting, moving and handling techniques.
Those susceptible to bed sores include those with reduced mobility, those suffering from an acute illness, the immobile, the elderly, the very young, and the malnourished. The patient can also be affected by moisture and any medication that they may be taking. For healthcare professionals as well as the individual, pressure relief is a very important consideration in the rehabilitation process.
There are several different types of mobility aids which can help reduce the risk of pressure sores.
Here is a list of six types of pressure relieving mobility products suitable for home use or use in a care giving environment.
Constant Low Pressure devices such as mattresses and overlays spread the body weight over a larger area. A pressure relieving mattress has a supportive, or "memory foam" base, which means that no additional mattress topper is needed. Some types of pressure relieving mattress are flexible enough to be suitable for electric adjustable mobility beds. Mattress toppers, as the name suggests, sit on top of a traditional mattress, and mould to the shape of the body, and so provide additional comfort. Pressure relieving bed pads have sewn in sections to prevent the material moving, and so reduce friction. These bed pads are normally for temporary rather than long term usage. Foam and fibre mattress overlays are used with a mattress, and allow the air to circulate. This reduces the build up of moisture which can lead to pressure sores. The various types of mattresses, toppers and overlays are available for different situations. For example, some are more suited for medical use than others.
Alternating Pressure devices mechanically vary the pressure beneath the patient, and may not be suitable for those with fractures. These types of mobility devices are often programmable so that the patient gets the correct amount of support. These pressure relieving systems are usually virtually noise and vibration free. Some models work on the patient's BMI (Body Mass Index), and depending on the model, the control unit can be used with several mattresses to save on costs and storage.
Low Air Loss pressure relieving devices work by supporting the patient on air filled sacks inflated at a constant pressure, through which air can pass. Air fluidised devices are designed for high-risk individuals who are not able to tolerate pressure. The airflow is warmed through sand-like grains or beads which are in an air-permeable fabric to create a dry flotation system.
Pressure relieving mobility devices are available for bony areas of the body such as the heels, hips, elbows and the head which are also at risk of pressure sores as the skin is thinner and so is damaged more easily. These types of mobility aids are commonly used in hospitals and nursing homes as well as domestically. Depending on the type of protector, medication can be applied to the protector.
For people who sit in the same position all day, using a proper pressure relieving cushion can drastically reduce the risk of pressure sores. If you use a riser recliner chair, you can adjust the position of the chair to change the position and spread the pressure. If a traditional type of chair is used, a dedicated chair cushion can help. Common types of cushion include ring cushions which are round and inflatable, and waffle cushions which can be inflatable and have ventilation holes which allow good air circulation.
Wheelchair and powerchair cushions are very important to reduce the risk of pressure sores and should not be overlooked when purchasing a wheelchair or powerchair. Purchasing the right size of cushion for the chair is vital in order that the cushion can be effective.
Using the correct pressure relieving mobility products is important and has measurable health benefits; however the most important point to remember is that changing positions regularly is the best way of preventing and treating pressure sores.