There are several types of therapeutic support surfaces and they are classified in Groups: I and II.
A Group I Mattress is the least desirable support surface. Group I therapy includes:
- Gel overlays: designed to distribute pressure and reduce friction and shear with gel bladders encased in a foam base.
- Foam mattress: multiple layers of foam for pressure reduction.
- Alternating pressure pad: Alternates the air inflation and deflation of the cells to constantly change pressure points and to promote circulation. These are typically a few inches in height with a pump to circulate the air.
- Non -powered reduction mattress: Channels the air circulation through maximum patient immersion.
- Alternating Pressure: Alternates the inflation and deflation of cells to constantly change pressure points and to promote circulation.
- Low Air Loss: Floats the patient on air-filled cells while circulating air across the skin to reduce moisture and help maintain a constant skin interface pressure "True Air Loss" utilizes 100-150 liters of air per minute to maintain normal skin temperature and moisture levels, yet will not dry out therapeutic dressings. True low air loss mattresses are typically 8" in height. The more liters per minute, the more effective the mattress.
- Lateral Rotation Mattress: A rotating air mattress is a must-have for bed-bound patients suffering from a variety of ailments requiring them to have assistance in turning and shifting their body weight while lying in bed. Without this capability, a long list of health problems can occur, including bed (or pressure) sores, breakdown of skin tissue and infections affecting various internal organs. A turning mattress, also known as a lateral rotation therapy mattress, provides regular lateral movement of the user through the use of air pressure to create an angled plane that causes the body to turn.
The best air mattress for the elderly depends on the patient's diagnosis, nutritional status, weight, mobility and skin condition. Typically if a patient has a stage 3 or 4 wound, a combination mattress of low air loss and alternating pressure is recommended. The more severe the pressure wound, or circulation issue, the more complex mattress is needed.
It is critical to educate and understand these therapeutic support surfaces so the proper therapy product be provided.