Pressure sores, also known as bedsores and pressure ulcers, are skin and underlying tissue damage caused by sustained pressure from sitting or lying in the same position for too long. Friction may also result in this type of sore. Rotational shear may damage delicate skin. Individuals with limited mobility often receive pressure sores in the region of the ankles, arms, head, heels, hips, legs, shoulder blades, spine or tailbone. These five pressure sore prevention tips should reduce the severity and number of pressure sores.
The single best prevention tip is to reposition regularly. The body should be repositioned every two hours while in bed. Individuals with upper body strength should shift weight every 15 minutes while in a wheelchair. Persons requiring assistance with wheelchairs should reposition every hour. This is where an alternating pressure mattress can be an absolute lifesaver!
Trapeze bars positioned over the bed are very helpful for persons with upper body strength. Bed linens are an excellent tool for caregivers to utilize for lifting and repositioning.
Pillows may be utilized to provide relief and position support for tender pressure points. Air 21ce and water-filled cushions are an excellent alternative to traditional pillows. These cushions may be utilized in wheelchairs or beds.
An electric, adjustable bed is an excellent solution for relieving pressure points and neck or back pain. Patients may change positions in an adjustable bed at the push of a button. Legs may be elevated, head raised or lowered and knees adjusted as needed. Some beds are available with massage motors to relax back and leg muscles.
High-risk individuals should consider pressure relief mattresses and pads. Some mattresses contain a pressure pump to produce consistent airflow to relieve pressure spots allowing adequate blood flow to return to the oxygen and nutrient deprived areas. Air mattress overlays are less expensive and are held in place with adjustable straps. Individual air cells are inflated or deflated with alternating pressure pump and pads. Many individuals prefer water mattresses to air.
Image credit: *Photo courtesy of ILN Day 2 Henry Ford West Bloomfield 12252 at Flickr’s Creative Commons.